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May 06, 2016

Inhofe and Mullin Statement on New Muskogee VA Director

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) released the following statements on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) announcement that Mark E. Morgan will serve as the new director of the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, which encompasses the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee:

“The announcement of a new director of the Muskogee VA is a promise fulfilled from the VA Deputy Secretary’s meeting with us in Oklahoma this past March,” said Inhofe. “Since VISN 19 conducted its investigation of the facility, necessary action has taken place to include change in the medical facility’s leadership and the suspension of intermediate surgeries. I urge Mr. Morgan to swiftly address the long-history of mismanagement so that it can return to full operation soon. I look forward to meeting and working with Mr. Morgan to also address quality of care, excessive wait times and use of the Veterans Choice program. On Monday, I also spoke with VA Sec. Bob McDonald about the next steps for Oklahoma’s medical facilities now that two new directors are in place. The investigations I requested for the Office of Inspector General to conduct in conjunction with the Joint Commission will be fulfilled in the coming months, which involve unannounced visits. It is my hope that this will allow for any underlying issues to finally be addressed and show that our VA hospitals are on a new trajectory with new leadership. I am committed to working with the VA and providing oversight with our Oklahoma delegation so that our veterans are getting the quality and timely care that they have earned and deserve.” 

“I’m very pleased to hear that the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System has selected its new permanent Director,” Mullin said. “My team and I have been working alongside Senator Inhofe to help address that quality of care and administrative issues that have been identified at the medical center in Muskogee, and I am confident that these issues can be resolved under the right leadership. Mr. Morgan has an impressive background, and I look forward to working with him to make sure our nation’s heroes receive the best health care possible.”

Background

On Oct. 30, Inhofe authored an op-ed published in the Tulsa World highlighting issues he is working to resolve at the Muskogee VA medical center. Following the publishing of the op-ed, the VA also sent two teams to investigate operations at Muskogee, one that looked at quality of care and the other that looked at management of the facility, with findings that are expected to be released in the coming weeks. Their visits resulted in the immediate shut down of intermediate surgeries at the Muskogee facility due to issues that were discovered.  The op-ed can be read by clicking here.

On Feb. 1, Inhofe placed a hold on the nominee for the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Michael Missal, until the department committed to investigating Oklahoma’s VA medical centers with the oversight of and in partnership with an outside private entity, such as the Joint Commission. Inhofe lifted the hold on Feb. 23 following a promise in writing to conduct these investigations. On April 19, the Senate voice voted to confirm Missal as the new Inspector General.  

On Feb. 9, the VA announced leadership changes at the Jack C. Montgomery VA hospital, which were the result of the two fact-finding teams since at the request of Inhofe to investigate allegations of poor quality of care. 

On March 10 and 11, Inhofe and Mullin met with VA Deputy Sec. Sloan Gibson who was holding stakeholder meetings at the Oklahoma VA medical centers. The Members met privately to learn about the feedback Gibson received in his meetings and to discuss next steps for the facilities. 

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