Sen. Isakson calls out VA hospital leaders - CBS46 News

Sen. Isakson calls out VA hospital leaders

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Sen. Johnny Isakson was in Atlanta Wednesday to talk about the controversy surrounding the city's VA hospital.

Three deaths were blamed on the facility for negligence and mismanagement so Isakson held a hearing with members of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the head of Atlanta's facility to follow up on the needed changes.

Once the hearing got started it didn't take long for Isakson to start calling people out.

Isakson said one of the testimonies said 21 percent never receive service for mental health.

"I think it's inexcusable. And I think one of the testimonies was, 21 percent never receive service for mental health. Is that correct? That inexcusable," said Isakson.

Not long after that comment, Robert Petzel, the undersecretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, owned up to it.

"It just was not done well. We openly admit that," said Petzel.

Isakson said he was happy to hear Petzel admit it for the first time, but taking the blame was only part of the step forward.

The inspector general report on the VA system made eight suggestions, including holding people accountable for their mistakes.

"Two people involved with it have resigned," said Petzel.

They also strengthened policies and developed a system improvement process to ensure patient safety.

So far, five of the eight suggestions have been implemented and the remaining three are on the way.

"We are on the right track. Things are definitely moving forward," said Petzel.

But Vondell Brown with the Wounded Warrior Project said there are still plenty of problems that remain.

"I think for simple veterans like myself, we really don't care how much you know until you show how much you care. So I just ask that we build relationships first and a lot of this would be much easier," said Brown.

The public wasn't allowed to speak at the hearing but Lisa Daniels stood up and made her voice heard anyway. She said her problems are being ignored and she's had enough.

"One thing would be if they are scheduled to give alcohol or drug screenings - are they giving screenings or are they falsifying? In my experience, my screens had been falsified," said Daniels.

But as fed up as she is, she thought the hearing was a step in the right direction.

"I feel very hopeful. I think my voice was heard and I think we can make some moves forward," said Daniels.

Isakson said he plans to stay on top of the leaders of the VA to make sure conditions and services improve.

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