VA hospital announces changes after patient deaths

CLARKSBURG, WV (WOAY)- A West Virginia VA hospital has announced a series of changes to “restore trust” in the facility after a former nursing assistant pleaded guilty earlier this year to killing several patients.

The VA’s Administrative Investigation Board issued a report focused on patient safety issues and culture at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center.

Former nurse Reta Mays pleaded guilty in July to using insulin doses to kill patients at the center between 2017 and 2018.

Dr. Richard Stone, the VA executive in charge, said Thursday that the facility will implement a number of actions recommended by the report, the Exponent Telegram in Clarksburg reported.

Among the changes are appointing the hospital’s associate director, Terry Massey, to serve as the center’s acting medical director until Jan. 4, when VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Deputy Director Barbara Forsha will take over as acting director.

The hospital said it is instituting a “safety stand down” in which it will not accept new patients, except for COVID-19 and intensive care admittances. New patients seeking care during that time will be accommodated by nearby VA facilities or local hospitals at the VA’s expense.

The hospital said it will also retrain employees involved in reporting urgent issues throughout the chain of command.

Attorney Dino Colombo, who is one of the lawyers probing potential wrongdoing cases by Mays at the facility, said “words alone will not fix the deep-seated problems in that institution.”

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday it was time for a leadership change at the hospital.

“I hope this will be a fresh start for our veterans and their loved ones,” Manchin said.

Mays is awaiting sentencing on seven counts of second-degree murder and one count of assault with intent to commit murder. Prosecutors said she injected her victims with unneeded and unprescribed doses of insulin.