Veterans at the Shreveport Overton Brooks VA Medical Center have been going without necessities like toothpaste, pajamas and sheets for no apparent reason. But, what the VA hospital has been putting its money towards instead will blow your mind.
In a new report by Watchdog.org, the watchdog group reveals that the VA hospital has been spending its money on things like flat screen TVs, Canadian-made furniture and solar panels.
According to the VA, the department spent $74,412 on 24 flat screen TVs for “patient/employee information” — one 50 inches wide and the others 42 inches. The furniture cost $134,082 and the solar project was approximately $3 million.
Shreveport’s Overton Brooks VA Medical Center was built in 1950 and its linens look like they’ve been around just as long. Sheets and blankets often have holes or are threadbare. Pajamas are missing buttons or snaps and are ripped. But patients who get even these items are the lucky ones.
By the weekend, the hospital runs out while waiting for its supply of laundry to arrive from 125 miles away, where it was cleaned at another VA hospital in Pineville, La.
What is even worse is that one employee admitted that veterans were given “ratty, torn pajamas” but said that veterans were so appreciative, that they simply do not care.
While the VA hospital is spending $3 million on solar panels, it is burning millions of gallons of gasoline in their 125 mile laundry route, according to the report.
The same employee said that many times the blankets and pajamas will come back from the laundry route and still have signs from past veteran patients, such as tape from IVs and electrode pads. Meanwhile, the VA said in a statement that the laundry is inspected before it is sent back to the Shreveport VA hospital.
Standard of care aside, the question remains whether hard-earned tax dollars should be funding new furniture, televisions and solar panels at the expense of veteran care, the employees said.
“They put those flat-screen TVs all over the hospital at every elevator in the east wing and we have 10 floors,” one employee said. “All it has is the weather and then it has these uplifting sayings by Martin Luther King and Maya Angelou and advice by Michelle Obama. Like ‘Be safe,’ ‘Move,’ ‘Eat Less’ and ‘Exercise.’”
According to the report, none of the TVs were used to upgrade veterans’ rooms at the VA hospital, leaving them with tiny 24-inch televisions. And as for the new furniture, it include new seating for patient rooms and for waiting rooms outside elevators.