Sunday, June 24, 2018
Military News

Smoke-detector camera videos still not released to veteran's family

TAMPA — Officials at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center put a tiny camera hidden in a smoke detector in the room of a brain-damaged veteran without telling his family.

This, Haley says, did not violate the patient's privacy.

But six months after the family of veteran Joseph Carnegie first asked for a copy of the video recorded off that camera, Haley officials still have not turned anything over to them.

Haley officials say they have been examining hundreds of hours of video to ensure the VA does not release the image of anyone in the room, excluding hospital staff and Carnegie's daughter, who has not given the VA permission to do so.

To do otherwise, Haley officials have said, would be a privacy violation.

"A number of individuals must be redacted from the recording prior to release," Susan Wentzell, a Haley spokesman, said in a recent email. "There are approximately 1,000 hours that must be reviewed frame by frame."

VA spokeswoman Mary Kay Hollingsworth said in an email, "We hope to have information to the family within the next few weeks."

In an Aug. 7 email to the Tampa Bay Times, Hollingsworth offered similar words: "The DVD will be provided as soon as practicable," she said then.

The VA has not contested the right of Carnegie's daughter to obtain the recordings.

But the daughter, Natalie Carnegie, said she has grown increasingly frustrated at Haley's refusal to provide the recording. She said she can't help but think Haley is trying to hide something.

"We don't know what they're waiting for," said Natalie Carnegie. "They're stalling."

The camera was installed in June, the family said, after they threatened litigation against the VA because of poor care they believe Carnegie had received.

Hospital officials, who say Haley offers excellent care, say they used the camera to remotely monitor Carnegie's fragile health. They compare the camera with other technology commonly used by hospitals, such as heart monitors.

The agency has insisted it was not spying on the family. But Haley removed the camera earlier this year.

"What the VA tries to do is wear people out and wait you out to see if you fold and go away," said Mike Coleman, Natalie Carnegie's husband. "But it's not going to work with us."

Joseph Carnegie, an Air Force veteran from Atlanta, was admitted to a South Florida veterans hospital a year ago because of high blood sugar. Carnegie, who had been vacationing in Florida, soon developed a severe infection at that VA facility before being transferred to Haley.

Then, Carnegie suffered severe brain damage after Haley medical personnel failed to keep a feeding tube clear, the family says. The VA said it is unsure what caused the cardiac arrest that led to the brain damage.

The brain damage left the veteran unable to communicate.

Carnegie was discharged from Haley on Sept. 10, then transferred to a VA hospital in Atlanta. He is now cared for by his family at home in the Atlanta area.

Haley leaders said the family was told about the camera before its installation and indicated the Carnegies had signed a waiver acknowledging its installation.

Both points proved to be false. No such waiver existed, and Haley documents examined by the Times show the family did not know about the camera's installation.

The hospital also initially denied recording the video feed from the camera. This, too, was proven untrue.

The camera has sparked two investigations of Haley — one by the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, the second by the VA's inspector general.

The VA said the IG's investigation is still ongoing. Committee staff also said the committee's investigation is ongoing. Rep. Jeff Miller, the Pensacola Republican who chairs the panel, has declined numerous requests for an interview.

Natalie Carnegie said she doesn't understand how a camera that the VA insists did not violate her father or her family's privacy needs to be reviewed to protect the privacy of strangers.

"It's insane," she said.

William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Talia Lavin, whose tweet about a Pasco veteran’s tattoo implied he was a Nazi, has apologized to him and resigned from her position as a fact-checker at the New Yorker magazine.But in another tweet, Thursday evening, Lavin also lashed out at the fede...
Published: 06/22/18
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...
Updated one month ago