A report of the VA Office of Inspector General (IG) in February cited insect and cleanliness problems in the operating room of the VA Healthcare System of West Haven, Connecticut.
Writing at Raising Hale, Zachary Janowski reports that the Connecticut VA has not had the long waiting periods for veterans needing care that contributed to nationwide scandal in the country’s veterans’ health system.
“We are hitting our marks,” said U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) about the VA in his state in May.
Three months earlier, however, the IG substantiated five allegations of deficiencies in environment of care:
- Terminal cleaning procedures in the OR are not performed appropriately.
- Environmental Management Services (EMS) has insufficient staff resources assigned to the OR.
- EMS staff do not utilize standard operating procedures (SOPs) or checklists for cleaning that are consistent with recognized industry standards.
- Patients with infectious diseases who may require special precautions are scheduled for surgical procedures throughout the day along with patients who are not infectious.
- OR staff are not always made aware of an infectious patient’s precaution status prior to the arrival of the patient.
“We found that cleanliness of the OR could not be assured due to inadequate staff resources, incomplete and inconsistent SOPs, poor supervision and training of EMS staff, and lack of oversight,” the IG notes. “We also found that safeguards were inadequate for ensuring patient and employee safety when infectious patients requiring special isolation precautions were scheduled for OR procedures concurrently with noninfectious patients.”
In particular, the report observes that “OR staff we interviewed indicated that flying and crawling insects have been an ongoing problem in the OR for about 8 years” and that some staff believe the source of the insect problem is that EMS staff are eating food in the OR at night.
“The facility does not have a policy addressing prevention or management of insect problems,” states the IG.
Another issue addressed in the IG report is lack of responsiveness in filling vacancies in cleaning staff.
“The human resources manager confirmed that delays within his department were a contributing factor and that they recently had been resolved,” says the report.
Janowski indicates that, according to OpenTheBooks.com, the top-paid human resources manager in West Haven, CT, with a salary of about $130,000, received a $5,000 bonus last year, the second-largest award in Connecticut in 2013.
“The report is a thorough and honest snapshot from an inspection that occurred in June 2013,” Connecticut VA officials said in a statement after the release of the report. “The IG report states that it found no evidence that the environment of care deficiencies in the OR resulted in negative patient outcomes.”