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Major shake up at veterans hospital in New Hampshire - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Major shake up at veterans hospital in New Hampshire

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MANCHESTER, N.H. -

A major shake up at the veterans hospital in New Hampshire.

A new report alleges veterans are getting "dangerously substandard" care at the Manchester hospital. Eleven doctors and employees contacted the feds saying the hospital was putting its patients in jeopardy.

The Boston Globe reports they described a fly-infested operating room and surgical instruments that weren't always sterilized. And the feds found "substantial likelihood" that those allegations were true.

The hospital denies patient safety has been compromised.

Now, Manchester VA Medical Center Director Danielle Ocker and Chief of Staff James Schlosser have both been removed. And Alfred Montoya, the director at the VA hospital in Vermont, will take over.

Monday, in a letter to New Hampshire's Senate delegation, Gov. Chris Sununu, R-New Hampshire, said, "Systematic change is needed to fully address the substandard care that our veterans are receiving, and I fully expect more changes will be made soon."

This comes after a new law was just passed to try to protect veterans and hold VA hospitals accountable. It will also protect whistleblowers like the staff at the Manchester hospital.

The goal is to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans have been fighting for this for decades and one of them told Peter Zampa the law could save lives.

"We are edging closer to accountability on the part of management," Rick Weidman said.

Vietnam Veteran Rick Weidman has called for accountability in the Department of Veterans Affairs for nearly four decades. He says a new law, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, will do just that. The law is meant to expedite the process for firing bad-acting VA employees and protect those who expose them.

"The whole key in this has always been accountability," Weidman said. "We believe the VA can work, but you've got to have managers who take those tools, pick them up, and use them."

Weidman says the VA has been riddled with scandal for years with doctors mistreating patients and veterans put on extremely long wait lists.

Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby is one of the bill's co-sponsors.

"There are a lot of good people that are committed to our veterans that work within the VA. But the bad actors, the ones who are not there to help our veterans, they don't need to be there anymore," said Roby, R-Alabama.

Some are concerned as to whether this law will actually accomplish the goal of a more accountable VA.

"What it does is make it really, really easy to fire people. And we know that when a government agency has the power to fire people, they fire people for all the wrong reasons," Jacque Simon said.

Simon is the policy director at American Federation of Government Employees. She says she expects this law to have the opposite effect of what is intended.

"Anybody who raises his or her voice to tell the truth about what's going on in terms of mismanagement will be fired on the spot and essentially no way to appeal," Simon said.

But opponents and supporters of this law agree bad actors need to be ousted.

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