Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
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Lost medical equipment is yet another VA outrage

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Ohio-VA-Investigation

This 2014 file photo shows the Cincinnati VA Medical Center in Cincinnati. Inventory records show Veterans Affairs medical facilities across Ohio have lost track of more than $1.1 million worth of medical equipment over three years.

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Once again, the agency that is supposed to be fulfilling America’s promise to the people who serve in our military is revealed to be failing both veterans and taxpayers.

In the last three years, Veterans Affairs facilities in Ohio have lost more than $1 million in equipment — ranging from small electronics, such as iPads, to large and expensive medical instruments, according to an investigation by Columbus television station WBNS.

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The equipment went missing despite, or perhaps because of, an elaborate digital tracking set-up called “real-time location systems.” The tracking system uses tiny tracking devices attached to VA equipment that, theoretically, can be tracked remotely.

The nationwide system cost the VA about $400 million, about $24 million of which was spent in Ohio. This would have been money well spent if the system worked, which VA employees have said it does not. Radio interference blocked signals in some cases. The tags were not properly installed on equipment in others.

The VA both wasted hundreds of millions on a tracking system that did not work and lost more than $1 million in equipment. Among the items “lost” between 2014 and 2017 were a $5,000 portable patient lift, a bedside monitor that costs $28,000, and a stretcher worth $12,000, according to the WBNS report. The investigation found equipment had gone missing from VA centers in Columbus, Chillicothe, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton.

This is outrageous and yet not surprising, given the track record of the VA in recent years. In 2014 it was revealed VA officials had been doctoring patient records to make it look as if veterans were getting prompt care when they were not. In fact, many veterans waited months or even years for care they are due thanks to their service to our country. Some even died waiting for medical care.

Now there is another black eye for the agency that should be among the finest in the federal government. What responsibility could be greater than living up to the promise of taking care of veterans?

Investigators must get to the bottom of this latest scandal and anyone who played a role in “losing” more than a million dollars worth of equipment that was supposed to be helping veterans with their health care needs to face criminal charges.

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