Blog: Congress slams Miami Veterans Administration hospital at hearing

Oct 13, 2011

The following article was posted to the Naked Politics blog in the Miami Herald on October 12, 2011:

Congress slams Miami VA hospital at hearing

By Erika Bolstad

The House committee that oversees veteran’s affairs disputed a top official’s assertion Wednesday that the Miami Veterans Administration hospital “has continued to move in a positive direction.”

Instead, some on the committee suggested the hospital’s director, Mary Berrocal, should be dismissed, and said they expected more progress in the aftermath of revelations in 2009 that nearly 2,500 veterans might have been exposed to HIV and other illness during colonoscopies performed with improperly cleaned equipment.

“I am so saddened by what I have heard today, things that are going on at Miami VA medical Center that are atrocious,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Pensacola, the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs committee. “I can only imagine how bad it must have been if you think it is moving in the right direction.”

But William Schoenhard, a deputy undersecretary with the VA, defended Berrocal’s leadership at the hearing, and said the VA believes it has in place “leadership that’s in the best interest of our veterans.”

“She’s turning this ship around,” he said. “It takes time to change the culture, it takes time to ensure that people are held accountable at the local level, that we are patient centered.”

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