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Manchester VA Director, Chief of Staff Removed Pending Investigation

Peter Biello
Danielle Ocker has been removed as director of the Manchester VA Medical Center pending a review of allegations made in The Boston Globe.

Two top officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Manchester have been removed pending a review of conditions described in a Boston Globe report. Several doctors at the Manchester VA complained in the report of unsanitary operating rooms and alleged substandard care.
Medical Center Director Danielle Ocker will be replaced by Alfred Montoya, current director of the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont. A replacement for the Manchester VA's Chief of Staff James Schlosser has not yet been announced.

The newspaper’s “Spotlight” investigative team detailed complaints from doctors who say they don’t have the proper equipment to treat patients. Doctors also reported being unable to easily set up appointments with outside specialists, leading to worsening problems in several patients with spine issues. And in one instance, doctors reported having to cancel surgeries last month because they found rust or blood on their tools. The hospital also has supposedly been struggling with an infestation of flies since 2007.

In a statement, VA Secretary David Shulkin says these are serious allegations and he’s committing to fixing any and all problems.

Sen. Maggie Hassan said in a statement that "the poor conditions and quality of care alleged by whistle-blowers at the Manchester VA are completely unacceptable."

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen called the allegations "deeply troubling," adding that "no veteran should experience the substandard care described in this report."

Rep. Annie Kuster, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, called the allegations "unacceptable," adding that "our veterans deserve much better."

Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement he'd spoken with Shulkin and said he was "encouraged by his willingness to address these troublesome allegations quickly."

The VA Office of the Medical Inspector and the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection are planning to start looking into the matter Monday.

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.
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