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Topics: Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs administrator who 'resigned' over patient deaths still on hospital payroll

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Congress,Watchdog,Mark Flatten,Veterans Affairs,Accountability,Veterans,Eric Shinseki,Jeff Miller

A former top Department of Veterans Affairs hospital administrator who resigned last year rather than face discipline over three patient deaths remains on the medical center's payroll, according to a Georgia newspaper.

The revelation in the Augusta Chronicle that Dr. Luke Stapleton, former chief of staff at Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is still being paid by the hospital drew a sharp rebuke Wednesday from Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The VA's undersecretary for health, Dr. Robert Petzel, assured committee members during a Feb. 26 hearing that “a number of people have either retired or resigned” as a result of the patient deaths at the facility due to delayed care.

The Chronicle reported that in addition to Stapleton, a hematologist, remaining on the payroll, no other senior executives at the hospital have faced administrative action as a result of the deaths of the three cancer patients.

“VA clearly has a lot of explaining to do,” Miller said. “Veterans in Augusta and members of Congress deserve to hear the full truth about what VA is doing to hold its employees accountable when patients fall through the cracks -- not carefully crafted statements that split semantic hairs in an apparent attempt to obscure the facts.”

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is scheduled to appear Thursday before Miller's committee to outline the agency's proposed 2015 budget.

To read the full story from the Augusta Chronicle, click here.

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