Veterans Affairs wind turbine, built for $2.3 million, stands dormant | Fox News

",300,000 VA wind turbine stands idle blowing in the wind!

ST. CLOUD, Minn. –  A $2.3 million federal stimulus project at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud is giving green energy initiatives a bad name.

A 600-kilowatt wind turbine — some 245 foot tall — stands on the wintry VA grounds, frozen in time and temperature, essentially inoperable for the past 1 1/2 years. No one is working to fix it, though many attempts were made to repair the turbine, once billed as a model green energy project.

“The St. Cloud VA is a hospital, and our focus is on our patients and we like to think that we treat our veterans very well here,” said Barry Venable, a public affairs officer for the VA in St. Cloud. “We’re embarrassed that this turbine does not operate as advertised.”

That’s quite the about-face from the buildup in December 2009 over the announcement of the central Minnesota turbine, the lone Department of Veterans Affairs project included in the White House document touting President Obama’s executive order for federal agencies to lead the way on renewable energy.

“Throughout the Federal Government, agencies are already leading by example toward building a clean energy economy. This document outlines some examples of projects, many of which leverage Recovery Act funding, that will drive long-term savings, build local market capacity, and create new private-sector clean energy jobs,” states an administration document called “E.O. 13514: Agencies Leading by Example.”

Today, critics call the solo St. Cloud wind turbine a leading example of something else — the failure of federal stimulus spending to deliver on renewable energy initiatives.

“It’s another example of stimulus money going after bad projects that make no economic sense. The VA in St. Cloud shouldn’t be in the electricity business,” said Peter Nelson, director of public policy at the Center of the American Experiment. “We already have utilities in Minnesota who are in the utilities business who know the best areas in Minnesota for setting up wind turbines and know how to maintain them.”

via Veterans Affairs wind turbine, built for $2.3 million, stands dormant | Fox News.

Review-Journal photographer detained during police investigation of body in VA Medical Center parking lot | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas VA where VA police unlawfully detain a photographer atempting to investigate the detah of a veteran in the VA's parking lot!

A Review-Journal photographer was detained Thursday morning by Veterans Affairs police during an investigation of a body found in the VA Medical Center parking lot.

North Las Vegas and VA police worked the case. VA spokesman Richard Beam said in a statement that authorities are “investigating the death of a Veteran that appears to have been on the main campus.”

Beam said in an email that the veteran was found by a VA employee.

A spokesman for North Las Vegas police said the body was found about 7 a.m. Thursday.

Employees at the veterans hospital complex on Pecos Road received an alert when they arrived for work.

“We are unable to discuss the incident due to privacy concerns,” VA officials told workers in the message.

“If any employee needs emotional support we have set up a room in the Mental Health Clinic which will be staffed by one of our mental health professionals.”

Review-Journal photographer Jason Bean, who was in the hospital’s parking lot in an area open to the public, was detained by three VA police officers who threatened to arrest him if he did not delete photographs from his camera. He was released after doing so.

Bean said he was not encroaching on the investigation scene but was “shooting photos behind the tape.”

Mark Hinueber, general counsel of the Review-Journal, said federal regulations allow photography on federal property from publicly accessible spaces.

“Mr. Bean was in a public parking lot, behind barrier tape when he was unlawfully detained by VA security,” Hinueber said.

The newspaper plans to file a protest with the secretary of the Veterans Administration regarding the incident.

Thursday’s death investigation is reminiscent of a Jan. 30 incident in which a suicidal man barricaded himself in the parking lot at the federal medical center at Nellis Air Force Base.

Police closed roads near the base, and SWAT team members and crisis negotiators spent several hours on a phone with the 50-year-old man before he was taken into custody.

via Review-Journal photographer detained during police investigation of body in VA Medical Center parking lot | Las Vegas Review-Journal.

NLV Police say man at VA hospital died of self-inflicted gunshot – 8 News NOW

NLV Police: Man at VA hospital died of self-inflicted gunshot

Posted: Mar 20, 2014 1:27 PM EDT

Updated: Mar 20, 2014 3:52 PM EDT

By Natalie Cullen, Online Editor – email

North Las Vegas, Nev.– North Las Vegas Police say the man found dead in the parking lot of the Veterans Medical Center, near Pecos Road and Centennial Parkway, was 42 years old and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to police, security at the hospital found the deceased individual in the parking lot at around 7 a.m. Thursday.

The Clark County Coroner’s Office has recovered the body and will release the man’s identity.

via NLV Police say man at VA hospital died of self-inflicted gunshot – 8 News NOW.

Medical malpractice lawsuit settled in VA medical center death | The Augusta Chronicle

A medical malpractice lawsuit filed over the death of a 33-year-old Air Force veteran at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been settled for $500,000.

The federal civil lawsuit was closed Monday with the acceptance of the settlement agreement regarding Jamie Bassett, who died June 11, 2009. The father of four went to the medical center’s emergency room repeatedly over a 10-day period because of abdominal pain.

Bassett was sent home without treatment until June 3, 2009, when he was admitted. During emergency surgery the next day, the surgeon removed 1.5 feet of dead small intestine

via Medical malpractice lawsuit settled in VA medical center death | The Augusta Chronicle.

Memo shows VA Pittsburgh knew about potential for Legionnaires’ outbreak | Local News – WTAE Home

PITTSBURGH —A new memo has surfaced showing the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System knew Legionella bacteria could surface in the hospital more than a year before the threat became public knowledge.

NO CHARGES FILED IN OUTBREAK AT VA HOSPITAL

Federal authorities in Pittsburgh say no criminal charges will be filed in connection with an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed five patients at a VA hospital.

MORE

SHARPSBURG TOWERS RESIDENT RECOVERING AFTER LEGIONNAIRES…

A female resident of a senior living community is recovering after she was diagnosed early this month, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.

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Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 obtained a copy of the memo from September 2011. In it, the top VA physician in Pittsburgh declared concerns about the bacteria. He also encouraged staff members to give bottled water to high-risk patients.

VIDEO: Watch Shannon Perrine’s report

The public wasn’t notified about the issue until November 2012. The Legionnaires’ outbreak in the VA hospital system killed at least six people.

“It’s very, very concerning that this appears to be another layer of evidence that the VA knew about this problem long before they told the public and long before they told their patients,” said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who was part of a congressional investigation into the outbreak.

The initial report from congress was scathing, revealing the staff did not follow protocol for making sure Legionella bacteria was not in the water supply. Murphy said the memo is further proof of the problem.

“If the committee wasn’t investigating this and the media weren’t investigating this, I’m not sure anybody would know, so I want the VA to do its work,” said Murphy. “I want them to come clean. I want them to tell people. We need to have trust in our VA system for our veterans.”

via Memo shows VA Pittsburgh knew about potential for Legionnaires’ outbreak | Local News – WTAE Home.

Norovirus confirmed at Boise VA, quarantine continues | KTVB.COM Boise

BOISE — The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boise says an extended care facility is still under quarantine after several people got sick.

A state lab confirmed the illness affecting people at the VA Hospital’s Community Living Center is norovirus.

Grant Ragsdale, Associate Director of the VA Hospital, says 9 people have now contracted the illness.

Someone started showing symptoms of norovirus Wednesday afternoon, so the quarantine will continue. It could be lifted as early as Saturday if no one else gets sick.

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain and cramps. In some cases, victims also suffer fever, chills, headache, weight loss and fatigue.

The illness is isolated to the Community Living Center and Ragsdale says people there first started getting sick on March 7.

Visitors are asked to not come to the Community Living Center unless it’s critical until the quarantine is lifted.

via Norovirus confirmed at Boise VA, quarantine continues | KTVB.COM Boise.

Veterans Affairs administrator who ‘resigned’ over patient deaths still on hospital payroll | WashingtonExaminer.com

A former top Department of Veterans Affairs hospital administrator who resigned last year rather than face discipline over three patient deaths remains on the medical center’s payroll, according to a Georgia newspaper.

The revelation in the Augusta Chronicle that Dr. Luke Stapleton, former chief of staff at Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is still being paid by the hospital drew a sharp rebuke Wednesday from Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The VA’s undersecretary for health, Dr. Robert Petzel, assured committee members during a Feb. 26 hearing that “a number of people have either retired or resigned” as a result of the patient deaths at the facility due to delayed care.

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The Chronicle reported that in addition to Stapleton, a hematologist, remaining on the payroll, no other senior executives at the hospital have faced administrative action as a result of the deaths of the three cancer patients.

“VA clearly has a lot of explaining to do,” Miller said. “Veterans in Augusta and members of Congress deserve to hear the full truth about what VA is doing to hold its employees accountable when patients fall through the cracks — not carefully crafted statements that split semantic hairs in an apparent attempt to obscure the facts.”

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is scheduled to appear Thursday before Miller’s committee to outline the agency’s proposed 2015 budget.

via Veterans Affairs administrator who ‘resigned’ over patient deaths still on hospital payroll | WashingtonExaminer.com.

Boise VA officials: Quarantine of extended-care building expected to be lifted Thursday | Boise, Garden City, Mountain Home | Idahostatesman.com

The Community Living Center building at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus in Boise has been quarantined since late last week due to a highly contagious virus, possibly norovirus, a VA spokesman said Wednesday. The quarantine is expected to be lifted as soon as Thursday.Eight patients and seven staff members in the extended-care facility – a one-story building next to the three-story hospital building – were diagnosed with some form of gastroenteritis, said Grant Ragsdale, associate medical center director. Tests are being done at the state lab to determine if it is norovirus.Norovirus outbreaks, a diarrheal illness often associated with cruise ships, are more common than most people know, said Christine Myron, a public information officer for Central District Health Department. She said there are between four and 15 outbreaks a year in the department’s four-county area, including Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties. An outbreak is defined as two or more people from the same location becoming ill within a short time frame.Myron said the department knew of five outbreaks already this year. In mid-February, the College of Western Idaho said in a press release that it evacuated its Ada County campus in Boise due to a report of norovirus. The building was thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated before employees and students were allowed back in.Norovirus infects about 20 million Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s often in places where people have close contact, including assisted living and daycare facilities. The agency has a whole website dedicated to the virus. The best way to avoid getting or spreading the virus: Handwashing.”We see it every year, and it spikes in the winter,” Myron said. Norovirus is a reportable disease in the state of Idaho – once a lab confirms it as such, it must be reported to the health department within 24 hours, she said.Symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. It typically runs its course in 24 to 48 hours.After the quarantine is lifted at the VA’s Community Living Center, family members will again be allowed in to visit patients. Ragsdale said 28 patients are currently in the Community Living Center; there are some hospice patients, but the average length of stay of others in the facility is about 23 to 24 days.The outbreak has not affected residents of the nearby Idaho State Veterans Home, said spokesman Phil Hawkins. The facility is currently home to 166 veterans.

via Boise VA officials: Quarantine of extended-care building expected to be lifted Thursday | Boise, Garden City, Mountain Home | Idahostatesman.com.

12 OYS: Charlie Norwood VA official resigns; remains on payroll, says source

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) — A new revelation is coming out of Augusta’s Charlie Norwood VA Hospital.

It comes in the midst of an ongoing Congressional investigation into three deaths at the facility due to what has been called a lack of proper medical care.

News 12 has confirmed that after being threatened with disciplinary action following those deaths a top official stepped down but is still getting paid.

There is a question on the mind of retired Air Force Veteran Richard Johnson. “Why is he still being paid,” Johnson said.

He is talking about former Chief of Staff Luke Stapleton who resigned from his post last year at Charlie Norwood VA Hospital after being threatened with disciplinary action following the deaths of three veterans.

But according to the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., he is still on payroll. According to a federal database, his former position paid more than $278,000 per year.

“If he’s resigned, what’s he still on the payroll for,” said Johnson. But neither the hospital nor the Veteran’s Administration is answering that question. However in a statement to News 12 the agency said:

“VA is committed to providing the best quality, safe and effective health care our Veterans have earned and deserve. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is reviewing administrative actions for Augusta VA Medical Center. The Augusta Chief of Staff voluntarily resigned from the position on March 10, 2013. As of March 10, 2014, no SES official at Augusta has had administrative action taken.”

Johnson said he believes if the deaths occurred at a private facility the outcome would be different.

“They’d go after them, they don’t say well we can’t do nothing now because they resigned or they’ve retired,” Johnson said.

During a congressional hearing last month, VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel when asked about holding officials accountable for deaths at the VA responded saying: “If somebody wishes to retire or resign, we cannot prevent that from happening.”

A source in Washington, D.C. tells News 12 that Representative Jeff Miller, Chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs responded saying:

“VA clearly has a lot of explaining to do, especially in light of the fact that VA Under Secretary for Health Robert Petzel stated during a Feb. 26 House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Hearing that ‘a number of people have either retired or resigned…as a result of the three veteran deaths due to delays in care at the Augusta VA Medical Center. If you asked 100 people to interpret the word ‘resign,’ 99 would likely tell you that someone who ‘resigned’ from an organization no longer works there. Since VA has confirmed that Dr. Luke Stapleton still works for the Augusta VAMC and no other senior executives have faced administrative action for the deaths at the facility, it’s now up to Dr. Petzel to set the record straight. Veterans in Augusta and members of Congress deserve to hear the full truth about what VA is doing to hold its employees accountable when patients fall through the cracks – not carefully crafted statements that split semantic hairs in an apparent attempt to obscure the facts.”

“They do have to be reminded who they’re working for because if it wasn’t for the veterans they wouldn’t need or have a job,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile according to a federal database, Luke Stapleton earned $278,000 in his former position. It is unclear whether he is still making that salary. News 12 reached out to the hospital for comment, but unfortunately like numerous instances in the past it has not responded.

Meanwhile the American Legion’s Veteran’s Affairs Division is wrapping up a three day site visit there. It is expected to take its findings to Congress and the White House.

via 12 OYS: Charlie Norwood VA official resigns; remains on payroll, says source.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs says changes have been made at… | www.wsbtv.com

WASHINGTON — Channel 2 Action News was the first to uncover federal audits showing that mismanagement at the Atlanta VA Medical Center contributed to the deaths of three patients.

 

Now, Channel 2’s Justin Gray is the only reporter to talk to President Obama’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs about whether the problems have been fixed.

 

Secretary Eric Shinseki was on Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify before Congress about the VA budget. Gray tracked him down to ask about the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

 

“There have been changes,” Shinseki told Gray.

 

Changes that Shinseki said have improved conditions at Atlanta’s VA Medical Center in DeKalb County.

 

Shinseki said he’s confident a change at the top, a new Atlanta director, has reorganized the management.

 

“You believe it it’s a problem that’s been fixed?” Gray asked Shinseki.

 

“I believe we have the right leadership in place and the appropriate changes are being made,” Shinseki said.

 

For the past two days, Shinseki testified before both houses of Congress. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson says he believes the changes are working.

 

“The new director Leslie Williams is doing a great job of holding the VA accountable,” Isakson said.

 

But has enough been done?

 

Seven people have been disciplined.

 

Gray asked Shinseki why no Atlanta managers lost their jobs after the loss of life. He says that’s not the case, but didn’t go into specifics or details.

 

“Over 100,000 of us in this department are veterans. We have their best interests at heart,” Shinseki said.

 

In previous hearings and interviews, VA officials have said nobody was fired. Shinseki indicated to Gray on Thursday that’s no longer the case.

via Secretary of Veterans Affairs says changes have been made at… | www.wsbtv.com.