Administrative changes coming to Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is taking action to restore trust at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in response to an Administrative Investigation Board’s report focusing on patient safety issues and culture at the center, according to Veterans Health Administration’s Executive in Charge, Dr. Richard A. Stone.

According to a release, the board identified concerns as to safe patient care and ineffective reporting of events.

VA moved forward with the investigation following the conviction of former nursing assistant Reta Mays who was charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of seven people and assault with the intent to commit the murder of an eighth person between 2017 and 2018, according to VA officials.

According to VA officials, actions underway due to the investigation include:

  • Detailing Clarksburg VAMC’s medical center director and associate director for patient care services to administrative duties in Veterans Integrated Service Network 5, pending a review of the facility’s quality and safety environment.
  • Clarksburg VAMC Associate Director Terry Massey will serve as Clarksburg VAMC Acting Medical Center Director until January 4, 2021, when VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Deputy Director Barbara L. Forsha will take over as the Clarksburg VAMC’s Acting Medical Center Director.
  • Instituting a safety stand-down during which Clarksburg VAMC will not accept new patients except for COVID-19 and intensive care patients. 
    • Other new patients seeking care at the Clarksburg VAMC will be accommodated at nearby VA facilities or in local community hospitals at VA expense, as appropriate. Veterans needing emergency care can still come to the Clarksburg VAMC.
    • Existing Clarksburg VAMC patients will experience no change in their care, and Clarksburg VAMC’s community living center will continue normal operations.
  • Out of an abundance of caution, a recently hired physician, an experienced hospitalist in the community, has become the Clarksburg VAMC’s inpatient director of hospitalists. A detailed nursing leadership team is being brought into the facility. 
  • Retraining of all Clarksburg VAMC personnel involved in reporting urgent issues throughout the chain of command. The incoming leadership team will assess the amount and level of training that is needed. It will be conducted throughout the facility over a period of time to ensure continuity of operations and care.

“What happened at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center was unacceptable, and we want to ensure that Veterans and families know we are determined to restore their trust in the facility,” said Stone. “Transparency and accountability are key principles at VA, and they will guide our efforts in this regard.”

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito both shared their thoughts on the recent changes in the statements below.

It was time for a leadership change at the Clarksburg VAMC for the sake of our Veterans’ safety and well-being. The recently announced safety stand-down is further evidence that there are serious issues at the Clarksburg VA facility. My main concern continues to be monitoring the quality of care our Veterans receive at our West Virginia VAMCs. I hope this will be a fresh start for our Veterans and their loved ones. My heart goes out to these Veterans and their families who will be impacted in the middle of an already difficult holiday season.

I want to make sure the people that depend on this VA for their services, all of our veterans and their families, for all the people who work here I want to make sure they understand what we’re doing and how we’re going to protect them, too and making sure the confidence that people need to have in their medical facility is going to be the highest caliber because right now, it’s not.

Senator Joe Manchin

Our veterans should always feel safe and cared for at our VA hospitals. These leadership changes announced today were absolutely necessary given the unacceptable problems that occurred at the Clarksburg VAMC. While this is a sign of progress, there are still many questions that need to be addressed, and I’m committed to making sure that happens. I commend the VA for making these necessary changes and I look forward to more actions to further improve operations and care at the Clarksburg VAMC once the investigation has fully concluded. In the meantime, I remain committed to doing all I can to make sure our veterans receive the best possible care at all of our West Virginia VA’s and tragedies like this one never happen again.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

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