Lawmaker asks why Dallas VA officials rewarded with bonuses

VA Hospital deaths

Credit: WFAA

Patient safety at the Dallas Veterans Administration hospital is once again being called into question.

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 18 at 5:33 PM

A News 8 investigation into patient safety concerns at the Dallas VA Hospital received attention on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.

The chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee contacted News 8 to say sub-standard care for veterans will not be tolerated.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida) has proposed a five-year ban on awarding performance bonuses to VA executives.

News 8 has learned the top two executives at the Dallas VA received $50,000 in bonuses over two years.

"The VA owes every American an explanation for why it has rewarded failing executives with bonuses," Rep. Miller said.

Dallas VA hospital officials said the bonuses are in keeping with government regulations.

Below is a full statement from VA North Texas Health Care System Director Jeffrey Milligan:

Regarding the ongoing investigation of patient care at Dallas VA Medical Center, understand that we are not allowed to reveal the health care treatment of patients when the patient/family has not executed signed consent or when there are pending legal proceedings. As such, when we are not allowed to speak publicly, fair and balanced reporting suffers. Regardless, protecting patient privacy is the law and VA North Texas Health Care System (VANTHCS) will not compromise patient privacy.

Although we have not been able to discuss the cases in your stories, in the future and in the interest of providing both truth and fairness to your viewers, you should be aware that we are a recognized national leader in health care safety and quality by focusing on continuous quality improvement.

WFAA replays “Dallas VA Medical Center was the worst VA in the Nation in 2004.” VANTHCS is not the same organization it was nine years ago.  VANTHCS meets or exceeds 92 percent of the goals given to us nationally that measure quality of care, preventive care, and access to care. VANTHCS is a high performing organization.

Here are some important facts that should be included in providing balance and truth in your reporting: 

  • Recognized by the VA National Center for Patient Safety; VANTHCS won the bronze Cornerstone Award in 2008 and gold in 2009, 2010 and 2012 for outstanding achievement in identifying, analyzing and resolving patient safety issues. 
  • VHA Systems Redesign Champion - 1st Place Award in 2010 for significant improvements in patient throughput.
  • Recognized by VA’s Green Building Initiative for achievements in sustainable energy and reducing environmental impact.
  • Awarded the 2010 Robert W. Carey Excellence Award from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
  • 2010 VA Engineering Green Building Initiative  (green globe) award

A caring staff is our best resource, and most have the best interest for Veterans and their families at heart. It is unfortunate when dedicated employees become discouraged because some media show no interest in all the great things accomplished here every day.

When my office received queries from your reporters, we respond transparently and as the law allows. I hope you will consider ending this unfair, unbalanced reporting. 

Sincerely,

Jeffery Milligan

 

Director, VA North Texas Health Care System

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