Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Next Salvo - Fire For Effect

To:                      VA Inspector General, Dept. of Labor, 
                           NY State Dept. of Health,
                           U.S. Joint Commission, 
                           U.S. Office of Special Counsel, 
                           Martin Evans - Newsday
                           Valerie Bauman - NY Times, 
                           Kristina Rebelo - NY Times
From:               Hutch Dubosque, US Military Veteran
                        10 Woolsey St., Huntington, NY   11743-2641
                        1-631-223-6107(cell) / 1-631-470-0958(home)

Subject:           Allegations of mismanagement and misconduct at the 
                        Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center
                        79 Middleville Rd., Northport, NY  11768

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a Vietnam Veteran who has been an outpatient at the VA Medical Center in Northport, NY, since 1979. My presence at the Medical Center was limited due to my work schedule until 2009, when I had to retire from work for medical reasons. Since 2009, I have been present at this Facility at least three days a week. There are some issues that have become known to me recently at this Medical Center. I feel these issues need investigating, as I perceive them to be at least unethical, and at most criminal.

In January of this year, 2016, the five Operating Suites were shuttered due to contaminants emanating from the ceiling air ducts. Unless you had an operation scheduled, you never would have known of this occurrence. I was not aware of this situation until early June 2016, and it was then that I learned Veterans were being rescheduled for arbitrary dates in the future, or were being told to go to other VA Medical Facilities in the New York Metro area. Apparently, our local, State, and Federal Legislators were not informed of the situation, either, until June. The Hospital Administration was comfortable waiting for $8 million in Federal funding to renovate the five Operating Suites; a process that would reopen these Suites in 2018, at the earliest, if they could acquire such funding. A combination of two U.S Congressmen and the local Press forced the hand of the Hospital Administration, and a temporary fix was implemented. There is only one problem still not being admitted to, or addressed. The air ducts are 44 years old and, being here on Long Island, have collected sufficient moisture over the years to give rise to black mold (also pervasive in the majority of buildings that were constructed in the late 1920’s). I now have it on reliable authority that the major contaminant coming out of those air ducts was, indeed, black mold. The temporary fix that has been installed will curtail the flow of the black mold, but will never eliminate it. We now have two of the Operating Suites back in operation with a high probability that contaminants will still emanate from the ceiling air ducts. This has been deemed acceptable for the treatment of my fellow Veterans.

The situation with the Hospital’s Operating Suites may be just the tip of a very large “iceberg”. There are a number of other troubling situations that I have been informed of by Hospital employees who I consider very reliable and trustworthy (Medical Staff members). In an effort to keep this brief, I will list summary thumbnails of each situation I am aware of.
  1. The basement of the Hospital houses the Radiology Department and other Departments. In May, it was discovered that the air conditioning unit serving just the basement fell into disrepair and is no longer serviceable. The Hospital Administration deemed it prudent to lease portable A/C units for the summer months at a price of $120.000.00 per month. It would cost in the neighborhood of $75,000.00 to repair the existing unit. I will leave the math up to you. This Administration is apparently waiting on Federal Funding to replace the entire system.
  2. It has been brought to my attention that a number of senior Medical Staff and Hospital Administrators have been either coming to work intoxicated, or becoming so while on the job.
  3. It has been brought to my attention that there are once-senior Doctors who are drawing a full-time salary from this Hospital, and do not actually work here. They have been seen by Hospital Staff and fellow Veterans enjoying private practice in the local private medical sector, thus receiving two substantial means of income.
  4. I realize that, nationally, the Veterans Health and Benefit Administrations have been trying to resolve and fix some large deficiencies in the system. In addressing my local situation, The VA Medical Center Administration in Northport has claimed that they have reduced the appointment “wait-times” to an average of 3.55 days. I can personally attest to wait-times in terms of months, not days. I can only conclude that this Hospital is using some sort of “Voodoo” accounting in arriving at their figures. I have the backing of every fellow Veteran I know on this matter. It seems that our Politicians, the local Press, and the VA’s Office of Inspector General are still “drinking the Kool-Aide” on this matter.
In summation, if I am aware of these few practices and situations, how much more is going on underneath the surface. Usually where there is smoke, there is fire. I am asking for a full independent audit of all business practices at the VA Medical Center in Northport, NY. My fellow local Veterans deserve no less; our Nation’s Veterans deserve no less. I would appreciate your consideration in this, and am willing to discuss any of these situations with you anytime, anywhere.
Thanking you in advance,
            Hutch Dubosque

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