By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org
PLENTY TO GO AROUND: Clean sheets are the norm in most hospitals and this weekend, for Shreveport VA too.
Veterans Affairs hospital officials in Shreveport, La., used bayou magic to conjure up additional linens, stocking their cabinets last weekend after a Watchdog.org investigation exposed the fact that patients were doing without sheets, pajamas and towels.
Three employees at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center told Watchdog.org that linens were plentiful at the 10-story facility beginning Friday morning, a day after Watchdog’s story was published.
This is in stark contrast to the norm, where linen cupboards are bare on weekends while the hospital awaits its regular Tuesday laundry delivery truck, which travels 125 miles, employees said.
“I was just shocked that this happened so fast.. I believed something would change when the story came out, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon,” one employee said. “It’s amazing to open a door and see linen stacked there. Even after the truck comes, it’s stocked more than that.”
The employees asked to remain anonymous because they feared retaliation at work.
“The head of the linen department was up there checking to make sure they had enough,” another employee said. “He was saying, ‘We are going to look into getting you fitted bed sheets. We want to make sure you have everything.’”
A third employee offered: “I was surprised to see a cart going down the hall with linen. You never see that this late in the week.”
Overton Brooks’ linen supply apparently also is a hot topic at the Department of Veterans Affairs as investigators from its Office of Inspector General showed up Sept. 25 after receiving a call from Watchdog.org requesting comment.
“This is ongoing and we have no comment at this time,” said VAOIG spokesperson Cathy Gromek in an email response to Watchdog.org. “This is being worked by our office of Healthcare Inspections.”
Employees said the sheets, blankets, towels and pajamas didn’t look new, so it’s a mystery where they came from.
On Friday, the American Legion blasted the hospital, saying it was angered over poor treatment of veterans and vowed to deliver linens and toiletries, which are also in short supply. The supplies are scheduled to be turned over Tuesday.
“That supply didn’t come from us,” said William Detweiler, American Legion’s past national commander.
Hospital officials say the linen supply has not increased.
“There isn’t additional linen,” said Tina Taylor Jackson, executive assistant to Overton Brooks’ director. “That is not a true statement.”
Added VA spokesperson Jessica Jacobsen: “Overton Brooks VAMC has required in circulation inventory based on the needs of the facility.”
The fact that linen is scare is nothing new, one of the employees said.
“This has been going on for years and years,” the employee said. “They’ve had meetings where this was brought up and basically they didn’t do anything about it. All they would say is, ‘This is how it’s always been.’”