PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida – 10Investigates discovered a scandal – and attempted cover-up – at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center has cast a shadow over the facility’s otherwise reputable hospice unit.
A whistleblower tipped 10Investigates off to a Feb. 16, 2016 incident where an elderly veteran passed away, then forgotten about for nearly 10 hours in a shower room after his body was prepared for the morgue. According to an agency review, employees then lied and falsely documented the process to cover-up the mistakes.
The report, which was heavily-redacted by the VA, concluded “negligence” and a “lack of respect” for the deceased veteran.
“We honor America’s veterans,” said Bay Pines spokesperson Jason Dangle. Dangle is also a retired veteran. “We view this finding unacceptable and have taken appropriate actions to mitigate and correct the issue."
Dangle confirmed discipline for the employees involved, but the VA redacted all names and specifics as well for “privacy” reasons. So the public will never know where those employees might resurface.
However, the VA adopted new policies and procedures for preparing bodies for the morgue following the review, in order to ensure a similar dishonor never happens again.
“Obviously, it’s not an outcome we would have wanted,” Dangle said, “but in the VA, when we identify an issue, we use it as an opportunity to learn and move forward.”