Tampa, FL – While 19 veterans nationwide have died because of delays in simple medical screenings like colonoscopies and endoscopies at unidentified VA hospitals and clinics, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson was told Friday that none of those deaths occurred at the James A. Haley facility in Tampa.
Nelson was also told more answers will be supplied in a report that should be released by the Department of Veterans Affairs within a few months.
"I have been promised that it will be released in May or June," Nelson told reporters after conducting a fact finding tour at Haley on Friday afternoon.
The media was not allowed to join Nelson during his visit at Haley.
Nelson says the public has a right to know the names of the hospitals where the deaths occurred and wants officials to explain what corrective actions the VA is taking to prevent additional deaths.
It is known 5 of the 19 deaths occurred a VA facilities in either Florida or Puerto Rico.
"The veterans have a right to know which hospitals are the ones that are the ones that are not doing proper consults."
Nelson also sent a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Friday expressing his concerns and calling on more transparency.
"They've got to open up and let people know where these mistake are being made."
A House committee will hold a hearing on the issue next week.
Late Friday, a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement to 10 News saying:
"The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cares deeply for every Veteran we are privileged to serve. Our goal is to provide the best quality, safe and effective health care our Veterans have earned and deserve. We take seriously any issue that occurs at any one of the more than 1,700 VA health care facilities across the country.
Any adverse incident for a Veteran within our care is one too many. When an incident occurs in our system we aggressively identify, correct and work to prevent additional risks. We conduct a thorough review to understand what happened, prevent similar incidents in the future, and share lessons learned across the system.
As a result of the consult delay issue VA discovered at two of our medical centers, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) conducted a national review of consults across the system. We have re-designed the consult process to better monitor consult timeliness. We continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms and prevent a similar delay at another VA medical center. We take any issue of this nature extremely seriously and offer our sincerest condolences to families and individuals who have been affected and lost a loved one.
VA is continuing to work with Congress in their important oversight role. We understand they have a responsibility to their constituents, many of whom are Veterans, and share our goal to provide high-quality care and benefits that Veterans have earned and deserve. We have received Senator Nelson's letter and look forward to responding with results of the national review when it is complete."