Inspectors Find Cleanliness Issues At Colorado Veterans Hospital

Dirty floors, unclean kitchens and dusty vents were found by inspectors who checked a veterans hospital in Denver and a small veterans clinic in southern Colorado, according to a government report.

Made public Wednesday by the Veterans Affairs Department's inspector general, the report did not say whether the conditions caused any health problems for patients.

The report, dated Sept. 29, said a February inspection found cleanliness problems in eight patient care areas, two areas where instruments are sterilized and in some ice machines and refrigerators in kitchens.

It also said some ventilation grills and horizontal surfaces were dusty.

The report did not specify whether the problems were at the aging Denver hospital or a small outpatient clinic in Salida, Colorado, which inspectors also visited. Kristen Schabert, a spokeswoman for the VA's Denver-based Eastern Colorado Health Care System, said inspectors focused on the Denver hospital.

A new veterans medical center is under construction in suburban Aurora to replace the Denver facility and is expected to open next year. The February inspection did not include that facility.

In a written statement, the VA said plans are in place to address the problems the inspectors found.

The VA nationwide is under scrutiny over spending, long wait times for care and other problems.

Last month, The Associated Press reported the VA program that pays for veterans to get health care in the private sector could run out of money this year, despite getting $2.1 billion in emergency funding in August. Another shortfall could force the VA to limit referrals to outside doctors, causing delays in medical care for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

In Colorado, the cost of the medical center being built outside Denver has nearly tripled to almost $1.7 billion. That so infuriated lawmakers that they stripped the department of the authority to oversee large construction projects and put the Army Corps of Engineers in charge.

Other problems found in the February inspections in Colorado:

  • Two doors in a mental health treatment facility were found unlocked and the alarms were not turned on.
  • Inspectors found no record that some new employees were given required security training.
  • Inspectors found no evidence that security personnel were compiling or analyzing data on violent or disruptive incidents.
  • Staff did not compile adequate reports on some patients who were transferred to other facilities, including whether the patients were stable enough to be moved and whether the new facility was told the patients' history, symptoms and test results.