veterans

Peter Biello

Complaints lodged by a dozen whistleblowers last year about the quality of care at the Manchester VA had consequences. At least four VA leaders lost their jobs and the government poured millions of dollars into improvements at the medical center.

But in an internal draft VA report obtained by NHPR, investigators say nearly all of those complaints were unfounded. (Scroll down to read the draft report.)

New Hampshire Gets Grant to Help Homeless Veterans

Sep 16, 2018
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The state's Democratic congressional delegation says that New Hampshire is getting more than $2.8 million in federal grants to help homeless veterans.

The funding will go toward two New Hampshire nonprofit organizations, Veterans Inc. in Concord and Harbor Homes in Nashua. The organizations provide housing, employment, and supportive services for veterans and their families.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster welcomed the grant money for service members who have done so much to protect the country.

DPAA

 

An American airman is being buried more than 70 years after he crashed on a Pacific island during World War II.

Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Roy Davis, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, was a gunner. He and a pilot were aboard an A-20G Havoc bomber on March 12, 1944, that failed to return after attacking enemy targets in New Guinea.

Attempts to find the aircraft and crew were unsuccessful. Davis and 2nd Lt. Vernal Bird were declared dead in 1949.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Peter O'Rourke, has signed off on all 29 recommendations made by the task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA Medical Center.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Department of Veterans Affairs says its Somersworth clinic will be moving to a larger space.

The Somersworth VA clinic is about 4,000 square feet.

The new clinic would be about 8,000 square feet and offer more primary care, mental health, and telehealth services, says Manchester VA Medical Center director Al Montoya.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu has signed into law a bill that allows doctors at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center to treat veterans at private hospitals.

 

A flood at the Manchester VA Medical Center last year destroyed clinic space. In response, Sununu signed an executive order suspending state licensing requirements so VA doctors could use space at private hospitals like Catholic Medical Center. 

Courtesy

The Manchester VA Medical Center and the Nashua YMCA are partnering to expand yoga, tai chi, nutrition, reiki meditation and other whole health programs to veterans.

The partnership is funded by a $360,000 grant from the VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

Dr. Romy Valdez is a VA Clinical Psychologist. He says it's part of an effort to change the way doctors think bout treating the whole veteran, "not just the parts of them that are diseased and in pain, but looking at how we can service the veteran so that they can feel self-empowered."

A new documentary explores what it means to be a female veteran of the military through the lens of a pageant known as Miss Veteran America.

The participants are veterans, and they help raise awareness of homelessness among female veterans. The film is called "Served Like a Girl," and tomorrow at Red River Theatres in Concord, a screening of the film will be followed by a panel discussion of the issues women veterans face.

AP

Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor President Donald Trump nominated for secretary of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn as the nominee. He issued a statement calling the allegations against him "false and fabricated."

The White House defended the pick, while the President earlier this week seemed to signal that Jackson could step aside, given the scrutiny.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Allegations of substandard care at the Manchester VA have largely gone unchallenged, at least publicly, since whistleblowers came forward last summer. And now we are learning why. 

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith was the leader of the VA new England Health Care System until last month, when he abruptly retired. He says the VA chose to take a no-response approach and wait for public interest in the allegations to wane. Now that he's retired, he's able to speak publicly about what happened behind the scenes from his perspective.

Allegra Boverman, NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would give a tax exemption to businesses that focus on generating human organs. The measure comes after Manchester was chosen by the U.S. Department of Defense for an $80-million grant focused on manufacturing tissues and organs.

The project, which is called the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, or ARMI, is led by inventor Dean Kamen.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The director of the New England VA Healthcare system announced his retirement Wednesday.

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith's departure comes a day after New Hampshire's two congresswomen, Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, called for his removal.

Allegations of mismangement at New England VA facilities have dogged Mayo-Smith over much of the past year. Last summer, a dozen whistleblowers at the Manchester VA came forward with allegations of substandard care that caused some patients lasting harm. They were vocal opponents of Mayo-Smith and called for his removal then.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is calling for the removal of a high-ranking VA official who she says needs to be held accountable for problems at New England's VA medical centers.

In a letter sent last month to VA Secretary David Shulkin, Kuster requests that Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith be removed from his position as director of the New England VA Healthcare System.

VA whistleblowers have been calling for his removal for months, saying that he knew about deficiencies at the Manchester VA but didn't do enough to help. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

We’ve heard a lot of stories this election cycle about political newcomers who have been inspired to run for office. But there are often many obstacles between making that big personal decision and actually running a campaign.

A Boston-based group called New Politics is trying to help veterans and other public servants break into politics. This election cycle, they’re working with Maura Sullivan, a New Hampshire congressional candidate and a Marine veteran.

Peter Biello / NHPR

  Sean Carrier is an Army veteran. He's 44 years old, and while serving in Iraq he survived seven IED blasts.

"And then I was in a hard landing in a C-130."

Peter Biello/NHPR

The task force looking at the future of health care for New Hampshire's veterans has drafted some suggestions for improvements at the Manchester VA, and those suggestions do not include the construction of a new full-service VA hospital.

This task force was put together last year after whistleblowers came forward with allegations of mismanagement at the VA. Dr. Erik Funk was the sole whistleblower to be named to the task force. He joins NHPR's Peter Biello to talk about these preliminary findings.

Peter Biello/NHPR

A task force looking at the future of VA healthcare for New Hampshire veterans has issued a draft report that says the Manchester VA Medical Center does not need to be a full-service hospital.

 

A full-service hospital has been a priority for many advocates, including nearly a dozen whistleblowers who came forward last summer with allegations of mismanagement that resulted in patient harm. 

 

The New Hampshire congressional delegation has long endorsed the idea of a full-service VA hospital in the Granite State.

 

Peter Biello / NHPR

By taking the job of permanent director of the Manchester VA, Al Montoya also received a nearly nine percent pay raise.

In his new role, Montoya will earn an annual salary of $174,500. That's more than $14,000 more than he made as director of White River Junction, Vermont VA Medical Center, which is a larger and more complex facility. There he made $160,147.99 per year.

Spokesperson for the regional VA network Maureen Heard says a director's pay is based on several factors, including medical center complexity, the director's experience, and local circumstances.

Al Montoya Named Director of Manchester VA Medical Center

Feb 25, 2018
NHPR File Photo

  The man appointed to temporarily lead the Manchester VA Medical Center after several top officials were removed last summer has been named the veteran facility's director.

Alfred Montoya had been serving as interim director of the Medical Center since July, when The Boston Globe reported on allegations of substandard care and treatment at the hospital.

Courtesy

Following his State of the State speech this morning, Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order that aims to streamline services for New Hampshire's military veterans and their families.

The executive order would create a single point of contact for veterans seeking state services. It also gives the state's Adjutant General more authority to coordinate the efforts of the state's existing resources.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster says VA Secretary David Shulkin must immediately address allegations related to official travel.

In an audit by the VA Office of Inspector General, Shulkin is found to have improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and gone on an 11-day European trip with his wife that mixed business and sightseeing at taxpayer expense.

Peter Biello/NHPR

The task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA met again Wednesday and will meet all day Thursday. Members are trying to come up with a tentative set of recommendations on how to best provide VA health care to New Hampshire's veterans.

The task force itself was created as a response to whistleblower allegations of substandard care that harmed some VA patients. Earlier today, in between sessions, NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with the task force co-chair, Dr. Jennifer MacDonald.

nh.gov

The New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton is suspending outside visitors due to an outbreak of a norovirus.

The suspension was announced Friday after multiple residents became sick with a highly contagious intestinal virus. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and headaches.

Veterans Home officials say they consulted with the state Division of Public Health about the temporary halt, which is in place to protect residents from acquiring new infections, as well as spreading the virus outside of the facility. 

A Troubled Investigation Into The Manchester VA

Jan 30, 2018
Peter Biello

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched an investigation into allegations of substandard care at the Manchester VA last year, after whistleblowers from the hospital went to the Boston Globe's Spotlight team.

Now, a new report says that the investigation ignored many of the complaints leveled by the whistleblowers, and at least one physician who was accused of poor care has found a job working with veterans elsewhere. We talk with Peter Biello, reporter and host of All Things Considered for NHPR, about the latest. 

Peter Biello/NHPR

 

A new report says the Department of Veterans Affairs has been reluctant to acknowledge fault with how some patients were treated by the VA facility in Manchester. 

 

The report comes from the US Office of Special Counsel (or OSC), the agency in charge of reviewing the VA's response to recent whistleblower allegations.

 

Peter Biello / NHPR

It’s been nearly six months since problems at the Manchester VA made national headlines.

Whistleblowers came forward with accusations of dangerous delays in care and unsanitary conditions. A task force formed in the wake of those accusations has been meeting to figure out the best way to deliver care for New Hampshire veterans.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello who attended a meeting of the task force yesterday.


Peter Biello / NHPR

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill that would create a state Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

The goal of the bill is to bring all the state's resources for veterans and military personnel under one roof. Right now veterans' resources for education, housing and homelessness, benefits, and medical care are handled by separate entities.

www.nhbedbugs.org

Update: The Urgent care clinic was reopened Thursday afternoon, following the closure Wednesday, the VA reports.

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The Manchester VA's urgent care clinic was closed Wednesday after the discovery of bed bugs.

Patients were sent away after the bugs were found in the waiting room and in one exam room.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking military veterans from New Hampshire to provide feedback on the future of VA health care in the state.

The survey asks veterans about how they would prefer to receive VA services. It also asks about the impact of combining existing VA clinics in Somersworth and Portsmouth into a larger clinic in Dover.

Britta Greene / NHPR

NHPR News covered hundreds of stories in 2017. They ranged from the sublime (see Todd Bookman's story about an amateur synchronized swimming team in Hancock), to the tragic - such as Jack Rodolico's Heroin Diaries, in which a wife of an overdose victim discovers his videos chronicling his struggle.

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