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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011

VA case irks Turner;
 legislators request 
independent study

By Ben Sutherly, Staff Writer
Updated 12:50 AM Tuesday, March 8, 2011
DAYTON — U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, at a press conference Monday “reiterated his outrage” over infection control lapses that may have led to nine patients potentially contracting hepatitis B and hepatitis C at the Dayton VA Medical Center’s dental clinic.

Turner demanded VA officials respond by Friday to his Feb. 16 request for investigative documents pertaining to the problems.

A VA official couldn’t say Monday how long the VA legally has to respond to the records request.
The problems at the dental clinic prompted its temporary shutdown from Aug. 19 to Sept. 10.
VA officials first went public about infection control lapses at the dental clinic Nov. 17, about four months after at least one employee raised concerns in July.

Turner on Monday criticized VA officials for taking so long to go public about the investigation.
Turner and U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman want officials with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association to independently review the VA investigation and suggest ways to improve medical care at the clinic.

Dayton VA Medical Center Director Guy Richardson told GDAHA officials the VA would cooperate with the independent review and associated recommendations, said Mary Boosalis, chair of GDAHA’s board of trustees.

The VA initiated administrative action steps against three VA employees, but the dentist in question, Dwight M. Pemberton, 81, retired Feb. 11 and therefore is no longer facing discipline. Discipline of the remaining two employees is pending.

When asked Monday if Richardson should keep his job, Turner said, “I am not sure whether or not Guy Richardson will survive” as director.

Bill Schoenhard, deputy undersecretary for Health for Operations and Management, said in a statement Monday that the VA is committed to keeping the process transparent.

“Let there be no doubt that we share the concerns of Ohio’s members of Congress and others regarding the importance of the safety of our nation’s veterans,” Schoenhard said.
“That is why Dayton VAMC has notified patients, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the trust veterans place in the health care they earned,” he said.

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