WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today praised the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for beginning the process to establish new leadership over the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, which encompasses the Jack C. Montgomery hospital in Muskogee, Okla.
“I applaud the work of VISN 19 and specifically its director, Ralph Gigliotti, for conducting a review of the Muskogee VA hospital over the last two months that prompted a change in leadership at the medical facility,” said Inhofe. “Based on the influx of veterans calling my office for help after seeking care at the Muskogee VA medical center, it is clear to me that the nine investigations conducted by the VA’s Office of Inspector General over the past decade didn’t prompt any substantive changes and business had continued as usual at the facility. I am hopeful this trend is changing thanks to leadership on the regional level with VISN 19. I look forward to speaking with VA Sec. Bob McDonald about VISN’s report soon, and I will work with the Department to ensure the vacancy at Muskogee is appropriately and swiftly filled. I also remain committed to my previous request for the VA Office of Inspector General to conduct an investigation of the Muskogee VA medical center, as well as the VA center in Oklahoma City, in conjunction with an outside entity. I believe this is a critical part of the process to ensure that Oklahoma’s VA medical facilities are being held to the same standards as private hospitals and that a substantive change is being made.”
In December and January, Veterans Integrated Service Network, Rocky Mountain Network (VISN 19) sent two fact-finding teams to the Muskogee VA hospital at the request of Inhofe to investigate allegations of poor quality of care. The findings were then submitted to the VA Office of Accountability Review (OAR). While this report is still in review, the VA announced today a change in leadership over the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System. Dr. Thomas Schneider has been removed as Chief of Staff over the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System and temporarily reassigned until the completion of the OAR. Dr. Herbert Nagamoto of VISN 19 has been appointed to serve as the interim Acting Chief of Staff for two weeks until Dr. Susan Bray-Hall can begin as the Acting Chief of Staff.