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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011

Despite probe, VA chief received bonuses

The local VA dental clinic has been under investigation since
last summer.

By Ben Sutherly, Staff Writer
11:05 PM Monday, March 7, 2011
Dayton VA Medical Center Director Guy Richardson received an $11,874 bonus last year even though the center’s dental clinic came under investigation for allowing unsafe sanitary practices by one dentist over 18 years.

Richardson received the bonus even though the dental clinic was closed for several weeks last summer, and the VA determined it needed to offer free screenings to 535 patients who had received invasive dental procedures from Dwight M. Pemberton. The Centerville resident failed to change latex gloves and sterilize dental instruments properly between patients between 1992 and July 2010, according to VA officials.

Nine dental clinic patients so far have tested positive in preliminary screenings for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Last Wednesday, during a federal budget hearing, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, questioned the $11,874 bonus that Richardson received at the end of federal fiscal 2010, as well as the $64,403 in bonuses he had received since 2006, given the problems at the Dayton VA.

“I can’t justify the performance of what happened at Dayton,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told Murray. “I think there is a failure in leadership, and therefore I’m not going to try to describe why a bonus was sensible. ... This went on for an extended period of time when it wasn’t brought to the attention of leadership, and I again fault that to a failure in leadership.”

Last week, Richardson said, “I’m charged as the leader of the facility to make sure we provide high quality, safe veteran care. I will continue to be committed to achieving that mission as long as I’m in this position.”

“I am not sure whether or not Guy Richardson will survive” as director, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner said Monday.

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