Friday, June 22, 2018
Military News

Rat droppings found in James A. Haley VA Medical Center

TAMPA — Rat droppings were found in a storage room of the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in an area between two wings of the hospital with patient rooms, the hospital confirmed Wednesday.

Karen Collins, a Haley spokeswoman, said the droppings, discovered at 6 p.m. Tuesday, were from "old rodent activity" on the fourth floor of the Tampa facility in a room containing "nursing station supplies such as carts and equipment." Maintenance workers found the droppings after removing ceiling tiles in the room.

Haley, she said, does not have an ongoing pest problem.

"We have 37 traps in and around the building that we're using," Collins said. "At this time, the rats are only being caught outside the building. None have been found inside for quite some time . . . The room was terminally cleaned and the floors were stripped and waxed."

Patient care at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, she said, has not been impacted. "As a precautionary measure, any potentially contaminated items were immediately disposed of or sanitized," Collins said.

Collins did not know when a rat was last seen inside the hospital, but she said the facility's pest-control plan has alleviated any problem.

"The plan is working," she said, noting pest control workers concluded the rat droppings were "dried and old."

Collins said infection-control officials at Haley also have been notified.

"Infection control has found nothing to be concerned with at this time regarding the room or supplies," Collins said. "James A. Haley veterans' hospital takes the health of our patients seriously and works very hard to maintain cleanliness standards."

A Cape Coral soldier's family complained about the lack of cleanliness at Haley in 2010, prompting an investigation by the VA's Medical Inspector's Office. The office made several recommendations, including additional staff training and filling vacancies in Haley's environmental management office.

In 2006, Haley officials canceled several surgeries after flies were seen in the hospital operating-room suite. Haley officials said at the time that spoiled food from an employee's locker attracted the flies. Haley sent out a staff memo reminding workers that they should properly store and discard food.

Rats and roaches were a problem at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. exposed by the Washington Post in 2007. Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., told reporters at the time, "Rats and cockroaches don't burrow and infest overnight."

William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432.

Comments
New Yorker magazine apologizes to combat-wounded Pasco veteran over staffer’s Tweet

New Yorker magazine apologizes to combat-wounded Pasco veteran over staffer’s Tweet

The New Yorker magazine has apologized to a combat-wounded Pasco County veteran about a tweet posted by one of its staffers.Over the weekend, New Yorker staffer Talia Lavin wrote in a tweet that a tattoo on the left elbow of Justin Gaertner looked li...
Published: 06/19/18
Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded Pasco veteran

Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded Pasco veteran

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is pushing back against a social media post implying that a combat-wounded New Port Richey veteran has a Nazi symbol tattooed on his arm. In a tweet Monday afternoon, ICE officials denied the ve...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Published: 06/18/18
Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — The federal government’s search for a home for its new Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic is focusing on the Little Road corridor in west Pasco.Three locations in the running for the VA clinic are identified in the ...
Published: 06/18/18
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Published: 06/17/18
Howard Altman: New Port Richey veteran out front in campaign for burn-pit benefits

Howard Altman: New Port Richey veteran out front in campaign for burn-pit benefits

Last week, the halls of Congress became the latest battleground in a campaign by tens of thousands of veterans seeking acknowledgment of the health problems they suffer from exposure to open-air refuse burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.Nav...
Published: 06/14/18
Airman with top-secret clearance, who disappeared in 1983, is discovered living in California

Airman with top-secret clearance, who disappeared in 1983, is discovered living in California

Before he mysteriously disappeared and landed on the Air Force Most Wanted list, Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. phoned home to tell his mother and father that he was going to the Netherlands.It was July 17, 1983, and the Air Force was sending Hughes...
Published: 06/12/18

Marine Corps weighs wooing older members for new cyber force

SAN DIEGO — The head of the Marine Corps says it’s time the U.S. military branch known for its fierce, young warriors becomes a little more mature. The Marine Corps is considering offering bonuses and other perks to entice older, more experienced Mar...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/09/18
Military members stationed overseas fret as flying pets home gets harder

Military members stationed overseas fret as flying pets home gets harder

Missy Lee, a civilian who works for the U.S. Army, paid Delta Air Lines $5,000 to transport her two white shepherds as cargo on the same flight she took when moving to Japan in 2014.In the years since, the industry of shipping pets overseas has drast...
Published: 06/07/18
Howard Altman: Calls to veterans hotline jump after program expands statewide

Howard Altman: Calls to veterans hotline jump after program expands statewide

During the first three months of its expanded, statewide hotline for veterans, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay estimates about 2,000 former service members called in seeking help because they were considering suicide.That’s a powerful testament to the...
Published: 06/06/18
Updated: 06/13/18