In Salt Lake City, VA staff treated a veteran in a dirty exam room. That's unacceptable

Wednesday , May 02, 2018 - 10:30 PM3 comments


Let’s be clear about something.

When you spend six years in the U.S. Army and serve two tours in Iraq, you deserve certain things in return.

A clean exam room at the VA, for starters.

When Christopher Wilson sought treatment April 5 at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, staff showed him to a dirty room.

  • RELATED: “VA hospital investigating after tweets of 'unsanitary' room”

Plaster splashed out of the sink, onto the cabinet and floor. An empty soda cup sat on the counter. The trash can overflowed.

And this is where they treated a veteran.

Wilson’s father tweeted photos of the room, calling it “very unprofessional, unsanitary and disrespectful."

Suddenly, the Wahlen VA found itself in the middle of a social media firestorm.

  • RELATED: “VA 'doubling down' to respond to Utah vet's messy room”

Dr. Karen Gribbin, chief of staff for health care at the Wahlen VA Medical Center, apologized over the weekend and again at a Monday news conference.

Gribbin acknowledged the day of Wilson’s appointment was busy, according to a story in The Salt Lake Tribune, but she said staff needed to prep the exam room if housekeeping hadn’t cleaned it.

“This is not the kind of patient experience we strive for in Salt Lake City,” Gribbin said Monday.

Let’s hope not. Because if it is, the Wahlen VA Hospital needs a new chief of staff.

Gribbin said Monday the hospital had started an investigation, and staff could be disciplined for treating Wilson in a dirty room.

Asked if anyone had violated hospital policy, Gribbin wouldn’t say.

“It was certainly not within practice,” she said.

Was the room unsanitary?

“I think it was unsightly,” she said.

It took acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to finally declare conditions in Wilson’s exam room “unacceptable.”

Clinics are "doubling down to ensure that exam rooms and other treatment areas meet VA's strong standards," Wilkie said in a Tuesday statement.

We’ll see what that means in Salt Lake City. Because Christopher Wilson deserved better.

Every veteran does.

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