VA Hospital Getting National Attention for the Worst Reason
In Clarksburg, West Virginia, there is a Veteran Affairs Hospital named Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, which is getting national attention. No, they are not getting an award, but rather the opposite. They are under heavy investigation for the mysterious deaths of at least ten veterans who served our country. All of the deaths occurred in the same manner, and all the bodies were dug up from the graves to be examined. After the deaths, there were no autopsies ordered from the hospital. Through the investigation from the FBI, all of the causes of death were ruled a homicide.
One of the patients at the hospital was Felix “Kirk McDermott. He was a Vietnam veteran whose blood sugar levels had dropped drastically due to an insulin injection, which he did not need. McDermott was not a diabetic. At 1:55 am on the morning of April 9, 2018, he was found having trouble breathing. A doctor was immediately called in, and the reports of McDermott’s condition were “cold and clammy.” The notes stated, “White foam oozing from the 82-year-old’s mouth and a crackling sound coming from his lungs. McDermott’s heart was racing; his pupils were pinpoints.” McDermott’s case was one of the oversights, which now has a lack of evidence for prosecutors to build a case due to the time passed.
Family members of McDermott stated the FBI showed up at their house one day to give them the news there was a person of interest they were looking into for murdering ten patients over 11 months. All were proven to be injected with a substantial amount of insulin.
A criminology professor at Birmingham City University in England, Elizabeth Yardley, stated, “When someone has intention to do harm in these settings, they will take advantage of any loopholes, any opportunities to exploit the system. It can be an investigative nightmare.”
Wesley Walls, the hospital’s spokesperson, stated, “Officials notified authorities immediately upon discovering these serious allegations and put safeguards in place to ensure the safety of each and every one of our patients. The person has been removed from patient care.”
USA Today reported, “Insulin on the ward wasn’t adequately tracked, so there was no easy way to tell whether any was missing that night, employees said. In fact, they said, insulin was routinely left unsecured, violating the hospital’s own policies. Complicating matters further, Unit 3A had no video surveillance to document the movement of its insulin or its employees.” This leaves a severe violation of the hospital’s part, which should have never happened. Within three days, McDermott was the second person to die with these symptoms. Authorities were never notified even in the months after the death tolls rose. The deaths occurred from the end of 2017 to July 2018.
USA Today also reported, “VA Inspector General Michael Missal has said his office is working with the FBI to investigate potential wrongdoing resulting in patient deaths at the hospital. His office declined to provide any details, as have the FBI and Department of Justice, saying they want to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
The first step after the bodies were exhumed and found tested positive for the insulin injection site on the stomach area was finding out why the insulin was left unsecured. At the VA hospital, the policy dates back to 2015. It says, “Insulin among high-risk medications that must be stored in a locked area.” Dated February 10, 2018, the hospital director Glenn Snider signed a memo stating, “All drugs stored in the ward and clinic areas will be kept locked in medication carts, cabinets or medication rooms.” Unit 3A, where all the deaths occurred, had the insulin within anyone’s reach. It was left open on hospital carts, on shelves, or was placed in locking cabinets where the locks were not functioning.
Since the news came out about the policies not being followed, all insulin is now under lock, and only the nursing staff can retrieve the insulin with a six-digit PIN number. Everyone was issued the new policy, which stated, “Once the medication(s) has been retrieved, you MUST ensure all drawers are closed, and the medication cart is locked.”
Attorney Tony O’Dell filed a wrongful death claim against the VA Hospital for the McDermott family in the amount of $6 million. He stated, “There is simply no excuse whatsoever for these deaths to have gone on for so long. That is an insult to these veterans’ families, and they should be ashamed.”