Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

VA's No. 2 defends use of covert camera at Haley veterans hospital

TAMPA — The deputy director of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday defended the use of a camera disguised as a smoke detector in a veteran's room at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.

W. Scott Gould, who is the agency's No. 2 behind VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, testified at a hearing of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., that the camera was the best way to closely monitor the health of a comatose patient, veteran Joseph Carnegie.

"We do not believe the camera was hidden," Gould told the committee after its chairman, Rep. Jeff Miller, asked him for an explanation about the camera's use. "We believe the family was informed."

Miller, R-Pensacola, appeared exasperated by the response and said he had been told by Haley officials that the hospital did not get any consent from Carnegie's family before the camera was placed in the room.

"VA maintains that they don't need the family's consent," Miller told the Tampa Bay Times after the hearing. "The questions I have are, if this camera was for patient safety, why not seek consent?"

Miller asked why the camera was removed if it had been put there legitimately.

Gould began explaining that Carnegie had transferred out of Haley. But Miller cut him off, noting that the camera was removed long before Carnegie moved to another VA hospital.

"This shows that there is no accountability at the VA," Mike Coleman, Carnegie's son-in-law, said in a telephone interview after the hearing.

Miller said he was especially concerned that VA policy allowed camera use in rooms without the consent of patients or their families.

"We will agree to disagree," Miller said. "I guess common sense where I come from would say just put a camera … where people can see it. For some reason, somebody made the decision to hide the camera."

Miller said afterward that Gould's ability to give a full accounting of the incident may have been compromised by his own employees in Tampa.

"I think it's very difficult for Mr. Gould to answer specifics when it appears that the leadership at Haley are not providing all the necessary facts to VA's central office," he said.

The committee was holding a hearing on the VA's performance and accountability. Miller's questions about the camera had not been on the hearing agenda.

William R. Levesque can be reached at or (813) 226-3432.

VA's No. 2 defends use of covert camera at Haley veterans hospital 09/20/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who's behind the mysterious butt graffiti all over St. Petersburg?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first butts, perhaps, appeared in April on some steps behind the Sundial shopping plaza.

    A photo of the butt graffiti that has been cropping up around St. Petersburg in the past several months. [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | STAFF]
  2. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money


    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  3. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  4. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning


    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  5. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.