VA Interim Undersecretary for Health visits Tomah VA

Two investigations underway at medical facility

A high-ranking Veterans Affairs official stopped in Tomah Friday as part of two investigations at the medical facility.

Interim Undersecretary for Health Dr. Carolyn Clancy met with staff members at the health clinic.

The Tomah VA is being investigated after an investigative report showed opiate prescriptions quintupled while the number of vets being cared for decreased. There were also reports of a retaliatory work environment.

Clancy says she would like to thank the whistleblower who raised allegations of opiates being overprescribed at the medical center.

Minutes before the press conference was set to begin Friday police escorted whistleblower Ryan Honl from the site.

The hospital’s chief of staff has been put on administrative leave during the investigations.

Dr. Clancy said what makes this issue challenging is the severity of the medical cases the workers at the VA are caring for.

“We don’t have a perfect solution, so I would be nervous about saying this is the right amount [of prescriptions],” said Dr. Carolyn Clancy. “What I do think we need to do is we need to take more seriously people who are on these medications for periods of time and what other medications they’re getting along with opiates, to make sure the patients are getting safe care as well as effective care.”

The investigators are senior leaders outside of the Tomah VA’s region. They’ll be speaking with staff members, patients, and whistle blowers on all of the allegations.

The plan is to be as transparent as possible, and use what they learn throughout the country.

“We don’t have a perfect solution, so I would be nervous about saying this is the right amount. What I do think we need to do is we need to take more seriously people who are on these medications for periods of time and what other medications they’re getting along with opiates, to make sure the patients are getting safe care as well as effective care,” Dr. Clancy said.

She said the Department of Veterans Affairs received several letters from lawmakers asking for an investigation. Representative Ron Kind was one of them. He said now that the investigation is underway, he wants to let the VA officials do their job.

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