Patient safety, cleanliness, broken furniture at Atlanta VA questioned by auditors

Auditors at the Atlanta VA Medical Center raised new concerns about patient safety, cleanliness and even damaged furniture at the facility that cares for 145,000 veterans across the region each year.

In a report published Thursday, the VA's inspector general identified areas in general safety and cleanliness at the facility, among other findings in its review of the quality of care provided by one the busiest VA facilities in the country .

The review outlined seven areas that it recommends management address to ensure quality patient care. They include ensuring that clinical managers keep a better eye on the "professional competency" of providers and do a better job at reviewing "important aspects" of care.

Auditors also raised concerns that the facility doesn't do enough to prevent disruptive and violent behavior at the hospital. And they identified concerns about the safety protocols for transferring patients when they leave the hospital.

They even dinged management for poor upkeep of furniture in the patient care areas.

Atlanta VA Director Annette P. Walker

Atlanta VA Medical Center Director Annette P. Walker concurred with the auditor's findings and said they'd already developed corrective action to address the concerns. Some of the issues had already been addressed, management said.

The report, compared to past problems at the Atlanta VA, was relatively mild. In 2013, a rash of veteran suicides were blamed on mismanagement at the hospital and it led to a brutal inspector general's report and Congressional review.

In 2014, the facility faced criticism after the murder-suicide by veteran Kisha Holmes who killed her three children before ending her own life.

The facility last year installed a special $850,000 anti-climbing fence on its parking decks after concerns were raised about veterans trying to jump to harm themselves.

A center spokesman on Thursday said the hospital's commitment to health and well-being of veterans "is unwavering."

"The Atlanta VA Medical Center takes very seriously our mission to provide top quality care to our Veterans in a safe and secure environment," said VA spokesman Greg Kendall. "We concur with all recommendations outlined in this report and have implemented several actions to correct the findings."

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About the Author

Brad Schrade
Brad Schrade
Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.