Following Her Appointment at Hines VA, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth Continues Work to Improve Care & Access

In a face-to-face meeting last month, Duckworth called on VA Secretary Bob McDonald to help fix problems relating to substandard care, long wait times and whistleblower retaliation

The Iraq combat Veteran still receives her own medical care through the VA

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–June 21, 2016.  Following a medical appointment at the Hines VA Hospital, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) today met with the hospital’s new interim director, Marc Magill, M.S., in another of her efforts to improve care and address several additional problems at the Chicagoland Veterans hospital. Duckworth, an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat Veteran who still receives her own health care services at Hines, also personally surveyed the facility’s food service area after calling on the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate and address allegations of unsanitary conditions and pest infestations, including reports of cockroaches, that could put our Veterans’ health at risk. After her request, the OIG initiated an unprecedented 3AM surprise inspection just days later.

“When my buddies risked their own lives to save me after our Black Hawk was hit by an RPG, they gave me a second chance at life—and every day, I want to make sure they never regret that decision,” said Duckworth. “That’s why I’ve made it my mission to support and protect those we send into harm’s way, both while they’re on the front lines and after they come home as well. When I’m working to fix problems and right the ship at Hines VA—where I go for my own healthcare—I’m doing it for them. That’s my commitment to my buddies and to all Veterans who fought for us.”

Congresswoman Duckworth has consistently worked to address allegations of long wait times, substandard care, unsanitary conditions and whistleblower retaliation within the VA since becoming a Veterans champion while she was recovering from her injuries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. After first highlighting several issues regarding Hines VA to VA leadership in 2013, the Congresswoman also raised her concerns about Hines directly to VA Secretary Bob McDonald during a face-to-face meeting last month. Duckworth—who is a former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs herself—requested the meeting after the independent U.S. Office of Special Counsel suggested that the VA’s internal watchdog created to protect Veterans from waste, fraud and abuse had sought to discredit whistleblowers instead of addressing problems with medical care at VA facilities during an investigation into whistleblower complaints at Hines.

The report issued following the VA OIG’s Hines VA Hospital investigation, which Duckworth requested, focused narrowly on whether waitlists were “secret” but did not address larger issues of patient access to care at Hines or the impact of delays on patient care. The report also failed to suggest any corrective actions to address the underlying problems. Duckworth, the co-author of the Clay Hunt SAV Act that President Obama signed into law to improve mental health care for Veterans and reduce Veteran suicide, also called on the Hines interim director to strengthen and improve the hospital’s suicide prevention efforts:

The Congresswoman continued: “Every day, we lose far too many brave American Veterans to suicide. Even one is too many. While the Clay Hunt SAV Act I helped write took important steps toward improving VA mental health services and reducing Veteran suicide, reports that some callers to the VA’s suicide hotline were sent to voicemail make it is crystal clear that we must do more to care for the brave men and women we’ve sent into battle overseas.”




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