Scandal Rocks Georgia VA Mental Hospital

Suicides Prompt Investigations & Hearings Leading to Retirements and Reprimands. 

In April 2013 VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the findings of their investigation prompted by “confidential tip” of the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia.  The investigation concluded that the hospital was horribly mismanaged leading to the suicide of three Veteran patients there.

A month later Congress acknowledged the shocking OIG report.  Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chair of House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that top leaders at the hospital had “something to hide” after failing to reveal the suicide of a Georgia Veteran at the hospital last fall.

Miller, who along with four Georgia representatives toured the 405-bed facility, had called for big changes.  Last month, Congress announced it was holding hearings about the hospital in nearby Atlanta.

The fallout from these hearing was swift and profound.  As AP reports, three employees at the hospital were reprimanded and two others retired.  More administrative actions are pending.

VA’s Undersecretary for Health Robert Petzel expressed regret for the deaths of four Veterans who sought treatment at the hospital and said “aggressive action” is being taken to address the problems at the troubled hospital.

“The VA and the Atlanta VA Medical Center takes every veteran death, especially suicide, seriously,” Petzel said. “Even one veteran suicide is a national tragedy.”

Note: VA’s crisis line stays open 24/7 at 800-273-TALK.

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