Jacology: John Cochran VA Medical Center

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Once again, the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis is being criticized for providing sub-standard care to veterans. And once again, that reveals the moral hole at the center of our professed concern for veterans. We thank them for their service. We get upset when they're not all called heroes. And we pretty well ignore what happens when they come home.

The latest report on Cochran comes from the VA's inspector general's office. It focuses on an incident in December, 2010. A 58 year old veteran was receiving kidney dialysis at Cochran. During the treatment, he passed out. But no one noticed. It seems the nurse who was supposed to monitor him during the five-hour dialysis treatment didn't. By the time it was discovered, the patient was pretty far gone.

He died the next day. The cause was bleeding around the heart, which sometimes happens to a small percentage of dialysis patients. But no one cared enough to notice until it was too late. It turns out there's no procedure for notifying hospital charge nurses or doctors is an event occurs. Huh? Isn't that, oh I don't know, sort of basic hospital 101?

Remember, in 2010 over 1,800 vets were told they might have been exposed to Hepatitis or HIV at Cochran’s dental clinic. In 2011, Cochran’s operating rooms were shut down until sterilization problems could be fixed. Congressmen and senators and the public have made a good show of being outraged. But things keep happening.

But there's a larger picture. Vets are returning to civilian life after Afghanistan and Iraq, there aren't enough jobs for them. The VA medical care may be substandard. Veterans make up more of the homeless population than any other group. Great. We call them heroes. So how come we treat them like dirt?