TAMPA, Fla. - We're digging deeper into what one local soldier's stepfather calls "deplorable conditions" at the James A. Haley Veteran's Administration Hospital in Tampa.
WINK News has nearly a dozen published reports by V.A. Investigators. One, done in 2003, found things very similar to the concerns raised by PFC Corey Kent's family. But we're told, conditions there should be improving very soon.
"Those weren't made up pictures. They were too dirty to be made up," Kent's stepfather Dan Ashby said, describing the pictures he took of his stepson's room.
Kent is now back at Walter Reed after his health took a turn for the worse while at James A Haley V.A. Hospital.
Ashby blames the condition of the hospital. "It's not just about Corey. It's about all men and women. Anybody who served in the armed forces deserves better," Ashby said.
Past inspections show issues with cleanliness have been raised for years.
A 2003 facility review uncovered:
-dirty and dusty equipment in unoccupied rooms
-discolored floor tiles and grout
-holes in walls
-and thick black dust on kitchen ceiling tiles
A 2006 review found the center to be appropriately maintained... but problems like a refrigerator dripping water onto medicine.
A 2008 review found:
-dusty air vents
-floors in need of deep cleaning
-dirty and clean endoscopes in the same room
Plus, a sample of 25 patients' PRN pain medication found 42% had little to no effectiveness.
We found seven investigations into quality of care:
-one following the death of a marine whose condition suddenly deteriorated once he arrived at James A. Haley
-another from a patient who complained his room was littered with trash and used urinals
V.A. Spokeswoman Carolyn Clark wouldn't comment on what she called "old and irrelevant" investigations. But says they are making state-of-the-art renovations. "We have a painting project, we also have on 5 west, we have just rehabbed that unit, and we should have that finished in 60-90 days," Clark said. "And what that is, is we have rehabbed that unit with single rooms, flat screen TVs, overhead lift system where we are able to lift them to a wheelchair or to the commode or restroom."
We've gotten quite a bit of feedback on this issue. Some have similar stories, others have had very positive experiences. Thursday night, we got an email from a man who said when he had surgery there 3 months ago, the conditions were clean and he was treated like royalty.
We've put links to all of the inspections and investigations on our website. Click under the Call for Action section.