Under former President Barack Obama, veterans seeking health care though the Department of Veterans Affairs were often neglected or mistreated, but that didn’t stop one VA medical center from bragging about its transgender initiative.
The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio was the subject of praise from the LGBT community in 2015 when it announced the opening of a clinic specializing in the care of transgender patients, such as giving them taxpayer-funded sex-change hormones, The Daily Caller reported.
However, when it came to the other 111,000 veterans in the hospital’s care, the VA center failed miserably in providing adequate treatment, including not ensuring that its medical equipment was clean and its employees were properly trained.
“Opening this transgender clinic allows us to continue to provide compassionate care in a space dedicated specifically to transgender veterans,” Susan Fuehrer, the hospital’s director, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2015.
Evan Young, president of the Transgender American Veterans Association, commended the VA for “stepping up their game” with the opening of the Cleveland transgender clinic, according to CBS.
Unfortunately, the hospital had not stepped up its game when it came to the basic care and treatment for the remaining 111,000 veterans who depended on Louis Stokes Cleveland VA, the inspector general found.
“We could not gain reasonable assurance that clinical managers effectively monitor the professional competency of providers … patient equipment is clean … (and) employees ensure a safe and healthy environment,” according to an inspector general’s report on the VA medical center released on March 13.
There were “system weaknesses in credentialing and privileging, utilization management, patient safety, environmental cleanliness … and Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program processes.”
In fact, 87 percent of employees did not have documentation showing they took required training for “their assigned risk area.” In addition, the report found that “employees did not consistently document hourly safety and security rounds.”
Additionally of concern was the number of patients who had to use the emergency room instead of primary care — a percentage that was twice as great as in the overall VA system.
Corruption and criminal behavior have also been discovered at the failing VA center in recent years.
In June 2016, former hospital director William Montague pleaded guilty to 64 felony counts involving taking bribes from companies seeking government contracts. He was sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
Hospital employee Andre Baker was charged in October with felony patient abuse and assault after he allegedly grabbed a patient by his neck and injured him during an argument.
Opening a transgender clinic could never make up for this gross mistreatment and lack of adequate care for our heroes who depended on this clinic for their health care needs.
Unfortunately, problems within the VA system haven’t been confined to this one center, as reports from across the country about veterans being neglected, mistreated or abused have happened all too often.
Our heroes deserve better.
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