For years veterans across the country have languished in VA hospitals, with thousands dying waiting for care. Suicide hotlines go unanswered and at least one hospital in Illinois, dead bodies were left in the morgue for months. Other hospitals are filled with black mold and roaches. Since the VA scandal broke two years ago, wait times haven't improved. At some hospitals wait times are now double what they were in 2014.
But it gets worse. According to a local news report from WEAU News 13, as many as 600 veterans may have been infected with life threatening, lethal and incurable diseases due to a lack of following basic health protocol at a Wisconsin VA hospital. Adding insult to injury, the allegedly responsible dentist wasn't fired but instead moved to an overpaid, administrative desk job where he likely continued to pay little care to veterans needing help.
The Tomah VA says it's in the process of notifying 592 veterans that they may be infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV after they received care from one particular dental provider.
Acting Medical Center Director Victoria Brahm said the dentist was using his own equipment, then cleaning it and reusing it, which violates the VA's regulations.
The Tomah VA says it uses sterile and disposable equipment.
The VA says he did this for one year, from October 2015 through October 2016.
It came to light when someone filling in for his assistant noticed what was going on and reported it.
That dentist has been removed from patient care and is now working in an administrative role.
The VA also referred the case to the inspector general for assessment of any criminal charges.
"It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations," Brahm said. "During all of the orientation, he used all of our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure."
This horrifying story is just another example of a lack of accountability plaguing the VA system and the consequences are lethal. How did this guy get through 592 patients before someone said anything? And why the hell was he shifted to a desk job instead of immediately fired and investigated for putting people's lives at risk?
President-elect Donald Trump is currently vetting candidates for VA Secretary. Army veteran Pete Hegseth, who has been a VA reform advocate for years, is on his short list.