Pronews 7 Investigates: Moving Forward at the Amarillo Va: Part II

Many local residents have come forward to Pronews 7 to talk about the ongoing problems and alleged retaliation at the Amarillo VA. While management said theyâ??re working tirelessly to deliver quality services for veterans in the Panhandle, sources inside the VA said itâ??s a culture thatâ??s going to be difficult to change.

The Cade family said they lost their father because of a misdiagnosis of a Urinary Tract Infection while under VA care. They said that the misdiagnosis is just one of the problems they experienced during their fatherâ??s hospital stay.

They showed Pronews 7 a picture of a hypodermic needle that was left out their dadâ??s room.

When the Cades met with VA officials to discuss their concerns about their dadâ??s care after he passed, they claimed that officials asked how much money it would take to silence them.

â??She gave my mom a tort claim and asked my mom how much compensation it would take to get rid of us,â?? said Larry Cade.

Then the Cades said that something bizarre happened when they began to push forward with their complaint. They claimed VA officials went on the computer and looked up their health records and told them that they knew that they had ongoing mental health issues.

â??There were going on the computer and thatâ??s when they found my sisterâ??s stuff about being in the pavilion,â?? said Larry.

Mary Cade says that they were trying to scare them away, by using their own medical problems against them. â??They were trying to discredit us, and I donâ??t think what was going on with us had anything to do with the care of my father, Jerry Cade,â?? said Mary Cade.

VA management cannot speak to specific cases because of privacy policies, but they said that they have an open door policy. Management was present at the American Legion VA town hall last weekend.

â??We are always looking for any concerns that we may have, and one of the things that we really take seriously is our opportunities to improve and drill down what we can do to make improvements to make things better for the patients,â?? said Andrew Welch, the Director of the VA

James Hamilton is VA employee and patient, who claimed that widespread mold at the VA made him sick. Hamilton and his wife told us that they have been aware of mold issues at the facility and that they faced retaliation when they came forward.

He claimed that management tried to cover up the mold issue at the Amarillo. â??They have known about this for quite some time, probably before I got there a few years ago,â?? said James.

â??They were told to keep their mouth shuts, and that their jobs would be on the line,â?? said Cathy Hamilton.

James Hamiltonâ??s wife added that the VA soon moved him to a new office to retaliate, where he was unable to perform his duties.

â??When they put him in there they put him in with just a desk, no phone, no computer, no pencils, no paper, no phonebook, nothing to work with,â?? said Cathy.

The Hamilton family told Pronews 7 that Jamesâ?? workerâ??s compensation claim was denied, and that theyâ??ve spent thousands seeing outside doctors. They claimed that management still isnâ??t paying attention to their concerns.

The director of the VA said that they have processes that ensure employeesâ?? voices are heard.

â??We actually have lots of formalized channels; one would be the supervisory chain and also you mentioned the labor union so employees can also bring their concerns to them,â?? said Andrew Welch. â??The other thing that we do is I make rounds in the facility and walk around and talk to people, to frontline employees, and the employees are readily willing to bring forward challenges.â??

The two families that we spoke with for this report are only the tip of the iceberg, as many other families and employees have been in touch with Pronews 7. The Amarillo VAâ??s management says there open to addressing concerns and committed to improvement, and their constant contact with us for this report may suggest that they are looking to move forward.