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Pinellas County
Jolly wants to talk to Bay Pines patients
Governor vows to sue to get inspectors into VA facilities
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U.S. Rep. David Jolly is hosting a VA Intake Day on Tuesday, June 17, to talk to veterans who have had problems at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.
U.S. Rep. David Jolly is hosting a VA Intake Day on Tuesday, June 17, to talk to veterans who have had problems at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.

“With the growing VA controversy, it’s imperative that we hear directly from veterans about their experiences, wait times and the quality of service they’ve been getting at local facilities like Bay Pines Healthcare System,” Jolly said in his weekly newsletter released May 31. “But unless we hear directly from veterans, we may never know if there are local problems, to what extent there are problems and what types of corrective actions need to be taken.”

The intake is scheduled at the Seminole District Office on the campus of St. Petersburg College, 9210 113th St., between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Veterans will be able to meet with staff and discuss their experiences. For more information, call 392-4100

“In some cases, we hope by getting involved we can resolve the problems immediately,” Jolly said. “But this intake may also give us a clearer snapshot of what is truly happening locally.”

Jolly said he had spoken with the director of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System about intake day and expects Bay Pines to be ready to help.

“It should be noted that my staff already works on veterans’ casework but again, unless we hear about problems we may never know how to take corrective actions,” Jolly said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned May 30.

“From the beginning of the VA crisis, I’ve believed personnel changes would be required and I respect the Secretary's decision,” Jolly said. “However, his resignation does not bring an end to the crisis, but it does provide an opportunity for the President to demonstrate his commitment to swiftly eliminate the medical waiting lists now.

“I'm encouraged by the Administration's comments Friday about quickly addressing the wait time issue and I have renewed my call for the President to remain personally engaged in this matter until every veteran has received the timely care they have earned and should expect.”

Gov. Rick Scott released a statement May 25 about news reports of a veteran that died at Bay Pines due to a misdiagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer.

The veteran Scott was referring to is Horace Lalley of St. Petersburg, who died Oct. 23, 2014 from bladder cancer. He was 76 years old. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

“There’s no question that the VA is failing to keep their promises to the men and women who served our country,” Scott said. “This case demonstrates that the problems we’ve seen at VA hospitals is institutional and have been going on far too long.”

State inspectors were turned away at Bay Pines after the governor ordered inspections of all the state’s VA hospitals. Scott vowed to sue the U.S. Veterans Affairs May 28 after inspectors from the state Agency for Health Administration were turned away at the federal veteran’s facilities.

“As the chief health policy and planning entity for the state that licenses, inspects and investigates consumer complaints, AHCA should be allowed access to federal VA hospitals to inspect their processes and facilities,” Scott said. “On seven separate occasions at six federal VA hospitals, however, state inspectors have been blocked by federal officials from carrying out their mission of ensuring facilities in Florida meet the healthcare needs of our veterans.”

The governor’s request for the lawsuit was made prior to Shinseki’s resignation, which Scott said was a “good first step in much needed reform in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.”

AHCA submitted a Freedom of Information Act appeal May 30 for records the Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to provide. The governor said the request is in addition to the lawsuit AHCA is preparing to file for the right to gain access to VA hospitals.

“With 1.5 million veterans that call Florida home, we’re committed to being the most veteran-friendly state in the nation – and reports of deaths, neglect, poor conditions and a secret waiting list in federal VA hospitals in Florida are unacceptable,” Scott said.

Removed April from the statement about a veteran that died at Bay Pines due to a misdiagnosis and treatment. Add information about the man who died.
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