'Unacceptable': VA disciplines leaders after reports a veteran died covered in ant bites

Abbie Bennett
September 17, 2019 - 4:06 pm
VA

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The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is disciplining nine employees in a bit to "restore trust" in a Georgia nursing home where a veteran reportedly died covered in ant bites.

In response to the reported ant infestation at the Atlanta VA Medical Center's Eagles' Nest Community Living Center, "and ongoing issues at other VA facilities in that region," VA announced Tuesday that nine employees were being disciplined in multiple ways.

Regional director for Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 7 Director Leslie Wiggins was "on immediate administrative leave" and Charleston, S.C. VA Medical Center Director Scott Isaacks immediately took over as acting VISN 7 director. 

“What happened at Eagles’ Nest was unacceptable, and we want to ensure that veterans and families know we are determined to restore their trust in the facility,” Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said in a statement Tuesday. “Transparency and accountability are key principles at VA, and they will guide our efforts in this regard.”

Also among those disciplined: 

  • The VISN 7 chief medical officer was "moved to other administrative duties outside the VISN, pending a review of the quality and safety of care issues in the network," VA said.
  • Seven Atlanta VA Medical Center employees connected to the infested community center were moved "into non-patient care positions" while an investigation by outside parties is conducted.

The announcement of disciplinary action comes during a series of allegations of major medical problems at VA hospitals recently, including a former Arkansas VA pathologist charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter of patients, investigation of suspicious deaths at a West Virginia VA Medical Center and an investigation into a series of alleged sexual assaults at a separate West Virginia VA. 

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Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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