According to a recent report, health workers at the Bay Pines VA Health System in Florida moved the body of a dead veteran in a shower room shortly after death, completely forgot about it for 9 hours, and later tried to cover up the mishap.
Investigators found, VA staffers moved the body into a hallway before placing it in a shower room. The body needed to be taken to the morgue since the unnamed veteran died in hospice care. Yet, no one bothered to call the dispatcher.
A report published in Tampa Bay Times revealed the level of indifference toward the remains of a veteran in the St. Petersburg hospice. The man died in February, but the magazine obtained the report this month citing the Freedom of Information Act.
Reportedly, the investigation team spoke with 30 witnesses and concluded staffers showed a brutal lack of concern, attention and respect toward a dead veteran. In addition, because they left the body unattended for so much time, the risk of decomposition rose exponentially.
According to the investigators, the veteran collapsed after receiving treatment at the complex. When hospice members learned the man died, they asked a member of the personel to carry the body to the morgue. That person, however, told staffers to ask the help of a dispatcher instead.
In response, no one moved a muscle and the people that were supposed to move the body never appeared. In the meantime, the vet’s body lied in a hallway until it was moved to a shower room. It is unclear for how long he stayed in the hallway. Investigators know for sure he stayed in the shower room nine hours.
Experts explained the human body enters decomposition minutes after death. The process is also known as self-digestion. When the body’s cells no longer get oxygen, they kick start the eerie process.
After the body was found and finally moved, staffers tried to cover their mistake up. In a report, they falsely said that there was a communication breakdown at the time of the incident. The investigation revealed that there wasn’t such thing on that day.
In another report, hospice members tried to point the finger at a shortage of clerics in the health care facility. And on top of that, they failed to provide investigators with clear data on the persons in charge with the transportation of the body to the morgue.
The hospice’s management said the investigation’s results are ‘unacceptable.’ They pledged to retrain its workers and change procedures. The unit declined to say whether it fired somebody in the process. A spokesperson for the facility said ‘America’s heroes’ deserved to be taken to their final resting place in the most respectful manner.
Rep. Gus Bilirakis blasted the Department of Veterans Affairs for the hospice’s lack of reaction. He said he was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the incident and distressed that workers tried to lie about it. Bilirakis noted on Facebook that ‘unsurprisingly’ no one lost their job despite the obvious lack of respect for the late veteran.
Image Source: Wikimedia