Heads Roll

Saturday, March 03, 2007

My father died in a Veterans Hospital years before Bush came along and so the media such as the WaPo did not feel the need to make an issue of his treatment. No great propaganda value there. In truth one can find horror stories about just about any medical vacility. It seems to go with the territory. I hear them everyday from clients who have been in all kinds of hospitals and clinics and nursing homes and convalescent centers.

But it is good to see Secretary Gates jump on this and try to deal with it. I understand he was downright pissed off about the whole thing and did not bother to hide it. I do think however, that in today's Medical climate...health care professionals spend as much time doing paperwork as they do taking care of people. Look at the new wings in hospitals and see how much room goes to patient care and how much goes to offices.

The revelations about shoddy facilities and wounded soldiers enduring long waits for treatment have embarrassed the Army and the Bush administration at a time when the White House is scrambling to shore up eroding support for the Iraq war. They have prompted numerous calls in Congress for more information, and sullied the reputation of what is supposed to be one of the military's foremost medical facilities.

An internal memo from Weightman last fall requested funding and additional personnel, saying that if shortfalls and the loss of skilled staff were not addressed, "patient care services are at risk of mission failure."

Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, applauded Harvey's departure.

"I commend him for taking responsibility for the problems at Walter Reed," Skelton said.

The defense secretary indicated he was unhappy with the way Army leaders had responded to the Walter Reed disclosures.

"Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems," Gates said.

"Also I am concerned that some do not properly understand the need to communicate to the wounded and their families that we have no higher priority than their care and that addressing their concerns about the quality of their outpatient experience is critically important. Our wounded soldiers and their families have sacrificed much and they deserve the best we can offer."

The White House said the president would name a bipartisan commission to assess whether the problems at Walter Reed exist at other facilities. Last week, Gates created an outside panel to review the situation at Walter Reed and the other major military hospital in the Washington area, the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md.


vnjagvet said...

Given the sacrifices made by our troops and their families, leadership requires sacrifice on the part of those who do not get results in giving those troops who are wounded exceptional care.

Harvey blamed NCOs for the problems at Walter Reed. This was inexcusable. NCOs typically exhibit interest in the things their officer corps exhibit interest in. Thus the old saying, "inspect what you expect".

In other words, the things you inspect will be ship shape for your inspection when you have previously communicated your expectations. The things you do not inspect will, on the other hand, not be as you expect them to be as frequently.

Gates is right to be angry. This was a leadership failure. Heads must roll.

terrye said...

Yes I agree. And the sooner the better.