Employees at the Bay Pines VA medical center dropped off a veteran’s dead body in a shower and let it sit there for nine hours, before trying to cover up that they had done anything wrong.
According to a 24-page April investigation by the hospital in Florida, staff broke VA regulations by “failing to provide appropriate post-mortem care” back in February when the incident took place, Tampa Bay Times reports.
After the veteran’s death, staff decided told the transporter to move the body to the morgue, who then told them to talk to dispatchers instead according to proper procedure. But staff never made that request to the dispatchers, and so no one ever showed up to take the body away.
To try to get rid of the body, staff moved it into a hallway and then to a shower room, where it remained for a total of nine hours.
The report notes that the investigative effort was slowed by false reports of what had actually happened. Staff lied in an effort to cover up their tracks.
The report redacts the names of the veteran and employees ensconced in the scandal, although hospital spokesman Jason Dangel stated that “appropriate personnel action was taken.”Dangel did not specify whether that meant the employees were reprimanded in some manner or fired.
Investigators determined that fail-safes meant to prevent the shower debacle from happening didn’t come through.
For example, staff were supposed to look at a 24-hour nursing report to confirm with other employees that the body handoff actually occurred. Employees at the hospice also claimed they didn’t have enough clerical staff, but they later backed off this statement.
“I am deeply disturbed by the incident that occurred at the Bay Pines VA hospital, and even more distressed to learn that staff attempted to cover it up,” Florida GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis said in a statement. “The report details a total failure on the part of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and an urgent need for greater accountability. Unsurprisingly, not a single VA employee has been fired following this incident, despite a clear lack of concern and respect for the Veteran. The men and women who sacrificed on behalf of our nation deserve better.”
Bilirakis has previously backed legislation empowering the secretary of the VA to fire employees for misconduct or bad performance.