Friday, March 23, 2007


Allegations of Poor Care Being Probed

The Defense Department's inspector general is investigating allegations of poor medical care at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said yesterday.

"My view on this is to shine the light on all of these things," Gates told reporters yesterday.

The action is in response to a letter sent to Gates this week by the Government Accountability Office reporting allegations of a rising death rate among veterans at the retirement home and reports of rooms spattered with urine, feces and blood.

The Pentagon has also sent the allegations to the Joint Commission, an independent organization that accredits medical care facilities, and said that it would welcome an investigation by the agency, said Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Pentagon sent four doctors to the home Wednesday morning to make a preliminary evaluation of the allegations, which were made to the GAO by unidentified medical personnel who have treated residents. The Pentagon team "found the facility to be clean and residents appeared well cared for," Upton said, adding that the team's investigation will continue.

-- Steve Vogel


Efforts to Keep Facility Open Are Opposed

U.S. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) is opposing efforts to keep Walter Reed Army Medical Center open, saying that a legislative measure being considered by the House today threatens to disrupt the entire base closure process.

The House Appropriations Committee unanimously passed a measure last week that would bar the use of any federal funds to carry out the closure of Walter Reed, which was selected for closure in 2005 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The measure is attached to a war funding bill being debated by Congress.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Warner said that the "unprecedented proposal" to remove one installation from the closure list would lead "to the eventual collapse of the BRAC process that we have adopted for 20 years as the most fair and impartial method for the closure of military installations."

Warner instead urged the Senate to approve $123 million in funding for construction of hospital facilities planned at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County.

The consolidation would "vastly improve processes for our wounded service members," Warner said in his letter.

-- Steve Vogel

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