There are some serious problems at the V.A. hospital in West Haven, and they must be corrected. With all that we ask of those who serve in the armed forces, the very least we owe them, both during and after their service, is the best medical care we can provide.
Unfortunately, the Inspector General’s Office of the Veterans Administration inspected the 230-bed V.A. Connecticut Healthcare System hospital in West Haven last June and found unsanitary conditions, an insect problem and inadequate infection control in operating rooms. This is unacceptable.
Although the inspectors did not find that any specific patients had been harmed, they did find inadequate cleaning staff, poor supervision and training of cleaning staff, and a lack of oversight, causing “an increased risk to patients and staff.” This is unacceptable.
We choose to believe that the vast majority of workers in the V.A. health system are conscientious and professional, and a close reading of published reports shows that the failings the inspectors found were those of management, not of rank-and-file workers.
But it is also troubling to learn that, on an average workday, 19 percent of the cleaning staff is absent. Are labor-management relations really that bad? Are these hospitals being starved of funding? If so, this is unacceptable.
Whatever the problems are, and whether they’re problems nationally or just in West Haven, they need to be faced and corrected as soon as possible.
The V.A. health system is a vast organization that provides care to more than 8 million vets each year at 152 medical centers and hundreds of other care sites around the country. The West Haven hospital managers say they are committed to continuing that proud tradition by providing veterans with the highest quality care.