Top officials at New Hampshire veterans hospital removed

Danielle Ocker has been removed as director of the Manchester VA Medical Center pending a review of allegations made in The Boston Globe

Danielle Ocker has been removed as director of the Manchester VA Medical Center pending a review of allegations made in The Boston Globe

The director and chief of staff of the VA hospital in Manchester, N.H., have been removed from their posts following a news report of dirty conditions, long patient wait times and substandard care, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced Sunday.

The Office of the Special Counsel, a federal whistle-blower agency, found "substantial likelihood" the allegations were true and ordered an investigation, which began in January.

"These are serious allegations, and we want our veterans and our staff to have confidence in the care we're providing", Shulkin said in a written statement.

"I have never seen a hospital run this poorly - every day it gets worse and worse", chief of medicine Dr. Stewart Levenson told the Boston Globe.

The VA Office of the Medical Center and the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection are being sent in tomorrow to review the hospital. I appreciate the seriousness with which Secretary Shulkin is taking this matter, and I will continue to monitor the investigation closely and provide assistance through the House VA Committee. They said the hospital was addressing the shortcomings and patient safety hasn't been compromised. The Veterans Choice Program, which allows patients to seek care in the private sector, "has broken down" there, the report said, and thousands of veterans have been unable to schedule appointments.

According to VA documents from December, the Manchester VA Medical Center, the only VA hospital in New Hampshire, was given four stars on a five-star rating system that compares VA hospitals nationwide. Members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation have lobbied for the hospital to become full-service going back at least a decade.

Sununu said that although he does not have direct jurisdiction over the VA, he is calling for an investigation.

"Even though they are buildings that we aren't using or buildings that are too old to viably use, they still have historic preservation status", Shulkin said about 100 buildings from the Civil War and Revolutionary War.