A veteran hid a gun in his wheelchair. The VA has a new rule to try to keep it from happening again.

Abbie Bennett
June 14, 2019 - 1:11 pm

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Veterans who show up to VA emergency rooms in wheelchairs, scooters or other motorized carriers will now have to switch to a VA wheelchair when they arrive, according to a new policy.

The new policy for Veterans Administration emergency rooms stems from an incident at the West Palm Beach, Fla. VA in February, when a double-amputee veteran allegedly concealed a gun in his motorized wheelchair and later fired at least six shots in the emergency room, wounding a doctor and injuring two other employees.

At a recent House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on the VA police force, Army veteran Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., asked VA leadership what was being done to prevent future incidents.

Renee Oshinski, acting undersecretary for health for operations and management at the Veterans Health Administration told Mast and the committee that veterans who come to the emergency room in their own wheelchair or scooter will now have to transfer to a VA wheelchair. She said the practice was already in place at West Palm Beach but said she could not say how many other VA emergency rooms were using the new policy.

“We are asking at all sites that when people come to the emergency department, they be put in a wheelchair that is owned by the medical center,” she said, adding that the practice is similar to that at private hospitals.

But Oshinski said the policy of switching to a VA wheelchair is only for emergency rooms -- not other parts of the medical centers.

Mast said the VA should look at potentially expanding that policy, “I see no difference in security threat” to the ER or the rest of the hospital.

At the same hearing, members of Congress shared horror stories of VA police officers arrested for DUIs and domestic incidents, imprisoned for murder plots and implicated in the deaths of veterans. 

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