A congressional subcommittee started looking into the problems at the Manchester VA Medical Center. Many criticisms have been leveled against the regional director for the veterans hospitals across New England.
The House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation's field hearing happened just two months after the Boston Globe report noted the allegations of low standard conditions and treatment at New Hampshire's only veterans’ hospital. The report gave detailed complaints from whistleblowers and even described the operating room as fly-infested operating room, with surgical instruments that are not always sterilized. It also noted that the conditions of the patients were most of the times ignored.
One of the whistleblowers, Dr. Ed Kois, who was one of the whistleblowers of the condition in the hospital informed the panel that he had spent close to two years trying to make the problems known to the VA officials. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, who is the deputy VA undersecretary, was triggered and commented that the situation was unacceptable.
U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, who is the subcommittee's chairman, addressed Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith, the regional director, and reminded him that he had responsibilities as a leader that he was supposed to fulfill. Reminding him of his responsibilities as a leader. Bergman noted that despite the improvements that will be made to patient care and infrastructure in Manchester, there was a need for a much clearer oversight and management both at the national level and at the regional level.
Mayo-Smith reported that the officials were currently carrying out a "deep dive" to identify and fix the problems, especially on how the regional networks reacts to such concerns when brought to them.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin reacted to the report by instantly removing the three top officials and ordering an investigation to be carried out. Shulkin went ahead to visit the hospital last month and instructed that a task force be brought to explore and hence offer a full-service veterans hospital in New Hampshire. This was to be done by working together with other hospitals that are in the state or forming a public-private partnership to improve care.
However, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, noted that partnering with the community providers can prove to be very challenging considering the many problems associated with the VA's Veterans Choice program. The program permits veterans to look for medical care outside the VA system. Patients, on the other hand have had issues of getting appointments while the outside service providers have had to deal with no payments, for instance a hospital in New Hampshire is owed $3 million.