New Patient Abuse Allegations At Tomah VAMC

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Tomah VA

Benjamin KrauseAn anonymous Tomah VAMC employee just leaked information about patient abuse by nursing staff at the facility. One VA employee was caught on table abusing a patient. Another VA employee “witnessed the incident and [] did nothing to stop the abuse.”

Apparently, this kind of behavior has been ongoing despite massive oversight of the facility. Shockingly, “Patients are still being abused, mentally and physically” even while press and Congress are intently watching the facility.

Ryan Honl, a former VA employee and harassed whistleblower, received the anonymous letter earlier this week and relayed it to me. The letter claims VA employees at Tomah VAMC are still victimizing veteran patients at the facility. If true, this shows Tomah VAMC has failed to fully reform its practices related to abuse of veterans and employees.

RELATED: New Drug Deaths Linked To Tomah VAMC ‘Candy Land’

‘CANDY LAND’ SCANDAL BACKGROUND

Tomah VAMC has been a hotbed of scandals over the past year following a VA OIG whitewash of drug abuse and whistleblower harassment. Further scandals revealed deficient stroke treatment and emergency protocols that resulted in the death of numerous veterans. The chief of staff, Dr. David Houlihan, was eventually fired. Most recently, VA employees were caught on video playing Human Hungry Hippos on the heels of a doctor credentialing scandal.

RELATED: Tomah VAMC Caught Falsifying Doctors’ Credentials

TOMAH VAMC LETTER

This new allegation within the letter stated one patient was pushed numerous times by a VA staff member. A nearby employee witnessed the incident but failed to report the abuse even though VA policies mandate reporting instances of patient abuse in a medical center.

RELATED: Corny Human Hungry Hippos Video From Tomah VAMC

TOMAH VAMC LETTER CONTENTS

The letter to Ryan Honl stated:

Thank you for fighting for the veterans at the Tomah VA Medical Center.

Patients are still being abused, mentally and physically. On November 10, 2015, a patient on 403B was pushed several times by a CNA (J.S.). The nurse coordinator said VA police have a video which clearly shows J.S. pushing the patient. The patient did not defend himself. Another CNA (N.P.) witnessed the incident and she did nothing to stop the abuse. Nor did the report it.

Several other things have happened on 403 since Jason Simcakoski died. I cannot share this information for fear of reprisal.

Please forward this information to the appropriate agencies. Our patients cannot defend themselves. Something needs to be done.

Thank you.

I filed a FOIA on the subject last night after Thanksgiving Dinner to be sure my request was lodged before Tomah VAMC destroys the video or related records. Two weeks ago, I filed a FOIA with the same facility for surveillance footage of the human Hungry Hippos teambuilding exercise and will report back once I hear something.

My formal request for comment from public affairs officer Matthew Gowan is still pending comment.

@VeteransHealth - Time to clean up Tomah VAMC! Click to Tweet

UPDATE TOMAH ABUSE

Public affairs office Matthew Gowan confirmed the allegations of patient abuse following my inquiry:

Good afternoon Mr. Krause,

A Nursing Assistant has been cited for Disorderly Conduct (carries a $250 fine and $25 administrative fee) based on a VA Police investigation into this matter. Additionally, the Nursing Assistant was removed from patient care duties during the VA Police investigation and will not have patient care duties during the ongoing Administrative fact finding.

Regards,

Matthew

Matthew Gowan

Public Affairs Officer

Tomah VA Medical Center

(608) 372-7759 (office)

(608) 567-1316 (cell)

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16 COMMENTS

    • @[email protected] -Sorry to say JACHO is…not for patients at any hospital. Google Public Citizens and info on JACHO. When I reported abuse of my husband in several facilities nothing was done,,,not even the VA. Husband and others were abused at the VAMC in Richmond, VA by CNA(s) I witnessed years of abuse. Sadly some patients died. I complained to EVERYONE, including JACHO. It is about money with these people. Even complained to adult protective services and the ombudsman. Nothing. My husband will stay home with me until I die or he dies. I cannot watch him or others being mistreated.

      All these agencies are supposed to protect the Veterans, the elderly and others who are not able to care for themselves or when there are incidents such as we are reading. Very sad. At lease I can watch over my loved ones at home.

  1. Reporting anything to VHA is simply giving them time to concoct thier infamous letters that explain everything without saying anything. This abuse IS NOT unique to Tomah. I have been inpatient many times and I have seen senior nurses intervene and ignore shoving, threats of punishment, and outright molestation.When I went to Circuit Court and explained a portion of what I saw and heard, she immediatelty issued a Restraining Oder TO Prevent Further Abuse. In the letter I got, PRF labelling me too violent to treat locally, they listed the fact that I had obtained a Restraning Order against their employee! They also listed that I complained by phone!

    They asked, according to FOIA, for VHA police to “investigate all communications sent to this facility by patient (ME), for any evidence of any threats.” On the same day that the Clinic Manager was trying to tell the Circuit Court judge that he acted the way he did because I threatened him (I didn’t think to bring the letter about the RO), the VHA police concluded in their “Official Uniform Report” that “…There has been no outstanding threat made by patient (ME) against VHA or it’s property. Closed.”

    They went fishing to find something on me because I obtained a Restraining Order to prevent further molestation! The fishing turned up nothing, so they listed on the PRF, “…you obtained a restraining order against a VHA employee…” as their reasoning. They also listed a complaint I made on the voice mail as threatening. The POLICE reported, “….no outstanding threat….” Closed. And yet because of appeals I am on my 5th Disruptive Behavior Committee letter. In each on, except the first, they changed the wording from “threat” to “ongoing behaviors”. 4 letters to my congressman about why I was flagged, simply lists ‘ongoing behaviors”.

    Since every single doc that treated me lists me as cordial and cooperative in the clinic, the only behavior I have ongoing are filing appeals.

    And it’s all because I blew the whistle, A Circuit Court Judge agreed, and VHA openly in their letter stated the RO was the prime factor. The minutes from that meeting were chilling, “This patient shows no respect for staff (on the phone), and the fact that he told me that he isn’t afraid of a police escort, (on the phone) tells me that he will likely be unable to control his actions while on property.” That was noted in the minutes.

    They can now just predict that you might get violent (after you get a RO to stop abuse) and their prediction is all it takes to shut you up as a whistleblower via the Violent and Disruptive catagory of patients.

    The VHA is brutal and efficient at pushing vets out of their system on virtually anyones whim. By the way, the future FOIA requests that I have made, as reported by the newspaper, are simply being ignored. Not a denial. Just sending them in and they are being ignored, likely under the authority of the DBC. After the newspaper story printed about DBC abuse, the DBC met and issued a “CAT 2 Administrative PRF, requiring all non-face-to-face contact by this veteran be reported to the DBC Chairman.”

    A CAT 2 PRF for administrative reasons according to VHA 2010-53 is “strictly prohibited”. The DBC, instead of alerting doctors in the initial moments of an encounter, now require doctors to alert the DBC in any moment of any non face to face encounter. Strictly prohibited by VHA, pointed out to them, and unlike a CAT One PRF issued by the DBC, since there is no precedence for a CAT 2 administrative PRF there is no way to appeal it. They just made this up! No explanation at all! I am now required to have 2 extra clinicians present when I go for care, and they refused to tell me why they were present against my informed consent. They said I would have to accept them or my medications would not be refilled.

    The abuse is rampant, and these school children they hire have the belief that once on campus they can define new laws for themselves.

  2. Seems the ENTIRE Tomah VAMC requires no less than 3 complete cleansing enemas to get all the SHIT EMPLOYEES out of the guts of that facility. These people are incredibly dangerous and will go ahead and suggest even PSYCHOTIC and SOCIOPATHIC.
    This is a stark reminder that the VA ignores OIG and Special Counsel and makes me worry if things will continue as they always have, with the fresh reminder that a handful of VA Liars and Scammers were just given relocation orders to ground zero, the Phoenix VAMC where like at Tomah, the infection in the system is because the VA does nothing to the SHIT EMPLOYEES!

    Quite enraging to me this morning that the Tomah VAMC has the audacity to continue abusing Veterans even while damn well knowing they are under higher scrutiny.
    These employees need a reality check and an air-drop into the sunny and very sandy deserts of the Middle East…air drop them all to the enemies to allow the infection to invade our enemies and bring THEM down, not Vets. I am sure these shit employees would fit right in with the enemy since they already are enemies to Vets.

    • That….is one of the best rants I’ve ever seen. In all seriousness though, the enema didn’t even make its way through the sphincter. It flushed David Houlihan because he became an embarrassment to VA leadership and Congress. They had to pay off the former director to disappear. Nearly every one of the people Houlihan put in charge is still going after whistleblowers in the facility. They are untouched or at best transferred to other facilities like the corrupt former police chief. Positions have been created for others in Tomah to say the VA held them “accountable.” One of the minions was even PROMOTED to the VISN level. The HR director that ran out every employee who raised concerns over the years is STILL firmly in place. Accountability? Maybe, and I mean maybe, after a few congressional hearings and hundreds of media articles about even one malfeaser becoming an embarrassment to them. And to add insult to injury, the Tomah VA party line these days is “stop being mean to us. We are in the process of healing.” They can heal once the turds are flushed. Until then the misery of public accountability isn’t going to end.

      That’s my attempt at a morning rant. Your’s is still far better. I gotta read it again.

  3. To all,
    In my opinion, I believe nothing will happen until law enforcement envelopes VA employees and arrests someone.
    There seems to be no help by OIG or any other facet of VA. Even Bagdad Bobbie doesn’t want to intervene. He needs to grow a set. And then start having VA employees arrested, convicted and sentenced!
    That’s my take on this!

  4. Anyone having anything to do with any VA Health Care professional is truly putting their own health and lives at risk.

  5. Although I used the VAMC I truly never trusted its Staff or Doctors. I’ve seen things unimaginable, while visiting doctor’s appointment, from rude staff, to doctors hiding in there office and suppose to be working in the ER, I seen patients trying to leave the hospital because of bad treatment hooked up to medical equipment, while being pulled back upstairs by the Va. Police. In 1966 my father were taken to the VA Hospital, two weeks later he were dead, when its clothing were returned to the family, his wallet were completely empty, the check that he cash the day before going to the hospital gone along with his ID cards. Use it carefully, watch what medications they give to you, because once you take it and become ill, good luck at the ER.

  6. This behavior is in no way, an isolated one. I have been shoved out of the VA by a security guard simply because my psych said I threatened her. I have not threatened her, nor anyone else.I can’t afford outside help, the DAV tells me their hands are tied, when I call, no matter what department, I get the same(no name) person who says she can speak for pharmacy, my medical Dr., and the advocate. I read your blog every day. What I haven’t read is what to do about all the things they do unethically. My last critical med shipment was late by four days. The name on the script who ordered it isn’t my Dr. I called and learned this Dr. cannot write scripts in this state. Al. RVN, was safer, and I believe a person had a better chance of living through it than we do at the VA. And all I am hearing is the VA has no intention of getting better, and all this illegal and unethical behavior is satisfactory to their union, and Congress, and Senate. Personnally, I am ready to lose it. I guess when I do, the VA will win again. But, I won’t have to deal with them anymore. I am not suicidal in the least. Why is nothing I tell Dr’s there getting into my file? God bless the Vets.

    • You answered your own question, ” What to do about people who act unethically .”
      Patient Advocates are really of no help, because; Guess who signs their paychecks.
      I have had some positive outcomes during conflicts with ” that one certain individual.” by contacting the Ethics Committee. It at least gets someone with a different perspective on how patient care is delivered.

  7. Do away with the whole VA and the IRS that exists to collect money to support them. Do away with Dept. of Education too, who some months ago were exposed for their workers stealing student personal data and ID and bought everything from iPhones to many other things (and cash) as a Dept. in these here United States that is swiftly turning into a 3rd world nation. The U.S. owes upwards of 56 trillion dollars to other countries, including China, through it’s treasury bills mostly – not the 17 trillion we are all told we owe. We bend over for anybody, I guess. It’s just a matter of time that Syrian and Turkish “forces” will be contracted by Bobby to police the VA. As long as this “stuff” goes on, I am embarrassed to be a citizen of what was once a thoughtful republic protected by the constitution. It is not the country of those days – not long ago, relatively speaking.

  8. Can we try to find a way to create a petition to request a committee of Veterans who have experienced this abuse to create an organization by Veterans, for Veterans who deal with what others do not want to do. Tell it like it is. We can blog here until the end of time but we will not make the changes needed. I am all for assisting and stepping out to tell my story. But if we form an organization that is beyond the norm maybe we will accomplish something. Even set up a hot line and preform site visits when Veterans call for help. We are all Veterans and we can stand up for fellow Veterans without violence or incidents. We can go on site with the permission from Veterans to observe what is going on during their appointments. We do not have to talk but be a second or third set of eyes and ears during the visits. Especially, at the centers with the most problems. We have several people here who have witnessed the abuse first hand. We have to be organized, we have to expect the worst, like people coming after us. But if we stand together, ask Ben to be our legal representative, I think we can make a change. Even if we are able turn one facility around for Veterans, we would have accomplished much. We have to make it a real movement. We have seen how gay rights have become a powerful movement. We see Immigrants showing up and getting what they want and need. We also see that the strength is in the numbers and the desire to make a change.

    I am waiting for the next episode to happen in my husband’s and my life. At times, I feel that people all around me are trying to use what they can to do damage. But at the same time I know that I believe in what is right for my husband and others Veterans, therefore, I will fight until I die for a cause I believe in. VETERANS!

    Just thinking…

    • This would be no problem with me, I could even use my cellphone camera, but things of this nature I have looked over for years because there is no one to complain too. I have complain on my primary care doctor about abuse to the Director. Its fine for awhile then she goes back the same way. I quit talking to her so that she want call the VA Police on me for being disruptive. This is the way they doctors are today, “lets say that your diabetes from your blood work is up some” but you came there for a completely differently problem, the flu or choking while eating. Everything that you say are completely dismissed, she now want to give you insulin, but you came there for choking and the flu. When it came to giving me medicine for the flu, my granddaughter also had the flu, my primary care doctor give me the same amount of dosage as my (5) year old granddaughter Petiatrics Doctor, the same milligrams and the same size bottle, and expected a grown adult to get well with that.

  9. Are these type articles forwarded to Robert McDonald? The individuals involved need to also contact their state and Congressional representatives, their local Newspapers and TV stations.

  10. We are forming a band of brothers in Olympia wa to help our brothers in arms. 22 too many is always willing to help a brother in need. We tell it like it is, many have lived it and they understand.

  11. Instead of caring for the truly mentally handicapped, they label them as uncooperative substance abusers. The first thing they do is take away the veterans cedibility. Then frustrate the hell out of them…then wonder why they get yelled at. They create programs that people with impaired functioning have no access to. I find people in the system at agencies there just to “help” vets, have a counselor yelling at me on day one like he was my drill sergeant…not helpful. I have had meetings with advocates and managers, usually ending in you need to write a letter to congress, we cannot fix these basic problems. In the end, they are understaffed, newly staffed, and poorly staffed as the pay scale is low for my area FACT. Can we just close down these failed money holes of clinics and small hospitals and see some real doctors please. Get rid of all the crap wait times with some monkey controlling the authorizations. The vets wont abuse the system…you just cant afford to actually treat us all.

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