Tampa VA responds to "unsanitary" concerns

Tampa VA responds to "unsanitary" concerns

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jul 18, 2012

CAPE CORAL - The Tampa VA hospital is responding to new complaints of sub-standard care and unsanitary conditions.

The VA hospital "remains committed to providing outstanding patient centric healthcare," said a spokesperson, "in a safe and hygienic environment."

Staff Sgt. Alex Dillman is recovering at the Tampa hospital after he was caught in an IED attack while serving in Afghanistan.

He feels he isn't receiving adequate care and describes unsanitary conditions - like catheter bags being tossed in his trash.

"Thrown away in the trash can, leaky bags," said Dillman. "That's urine that gets spread on the floor. It wasn't a big deal to them but it's a big deal to me because I've been in this room for almost a year. I kind of live in this room."

The hospital addressed that in a sentence telling us: "Our procedure for catheter bags are that they are completely emptied prior to disposal."

"Well you heard firsthand," said Dan Ashby, with the National Coalition for Patriots, "that isn't what's happening."

Ashby is the father of Corey Kent, who had limbs amputated after an IED explosion in Afghanistan. In 2010, while Kent was staying at the Tampa VA hospital, Ashby described as "deplorable" conditions.

He believes some of the same issues the hospital promised to address are now resurfacing.

"To see the same things all over again," said Ashby, "you wonder what they're thinking and who's in charge up there."

After receiving complaints from several soldiers, who wanted to stay anonymous, Ashby visited the VA on July 15 and took photos of leaky ceilings, dirty bathrooms, a missing elevator floor board and a hole in the bathroom wall.

The hospital blames the conditions on a 3 year, $3.5 million remodeling project and says the issues are being corrected.

They blame the leaky ceiling on rain and say the roof is being fixed.

The rusted ice machines are being replaced and the current ones are getting a "deep cleaning" to remove "calcium deposits," according to a spokesperson.

The missing floorboard and broken lights in the elevator are also being taken care of, the spokesperson said.

"Why did we have to bring it up," said Ashby, "to have it fixed?"

The hospital says they have hired additional housekeepers and have increased cleaning frequency. They also have a 24-hour hotline to report unsanitary conditions.

"Are you encouraged that they're saying they're going to address these problems?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"You know I would love to say I was but I'm not," said Ashby. "Because I don't believe them anymore."

Ashby says he will be back to the hospital with his camera to see if they follow through with their promise to make changes.

In the meantime, he says he's reached out to several state senators. So far he hasn't heard back.

Matt Grant