Operating rooms at the Northport, LI Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital were closed since February due to sand-sized black particles falling from the air ducts. Air quality analysis revealed oxidizing metal and crumbling concrete in the duct system of the hospital. Surgical patients were faced with delays in treatment due to the shutdown of all five of the operating rooms at the Hospital. Several of the operating rooms temporarily reopened in April, but eventually were shut down again due to continuing contamination. Northport handles more than 600 inpatient and more than 1,800 outpatient surgeries annually.
Northport VA had a history of complaints regarding the particles. Specifically, the staff observed that although maintenance continued to clean the surfaces that particles accumulate on, they reappear shorty from the air ducts. Moreover, at least three staff members had indicated concern over the working environment. Instead of Northport’s air ducts improving overall air quality and reducing the airborne transmission of germs.
The problem could be solved with the installation “high efficiency particulate air” (“HEPA”) filters. Northport has identified June 1 as the target date of re-opening the operating rooms. However, the date is contingent on the delivery and installation of the HEPA filters. Meanwhile, the patients of Northport will continue to face scheduling problems for their surgical needs since February of this year.
Nearly two years ago, a nationwide scandal over veterans’ health care emerged in phoenix after as many as 40 patients died while awaiting care at the city’s VA hospital. Reports documenting scheduling problems and wait-time manipulation at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are being made public as the agency’s internal watchdog bows to pressure from members of Congress and others to improve transparency.
At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP, we candle many cases of negligence and malpractice against the VA and other facilities. If you were harmed by another’s negligence contact us online or call (212) 684-1880 to speak with a knowledgeable attorney today.
Written by Edwin Kim