A Veterans Hospital Served Food With Cockroaches In It For Years
Don’t read this while eating.
A new report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs finds that a VA hospital near Chicago has a kitchen with a cockroach infestation—and staffers knew about the problem and discussed it internally for years.
The office of the inspector general in Veterans Affairs inspected the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in May 2016 after such an investigation was requested by Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and Senator Mark Kirk. The politicians had heard of allegations that cockroaches were present in the foodservice area of the hospital, and that patients were actually receiving food trays with roaches on them. On their unannounced visit last year, the health inspectors spotted dead roaches and conditions that were favorable to infestation: cracks in flooring, wet drains, trash cans without lids, and more.
What’s even more horrifying? The office reviewed emails among the hospital staff and found them discussing the cockroach issue as far back as 2011. “Six reports of cockroaches on patient food trays had been submitted to facility leadership between March 2011 and December 2015. Facility leadership relied on its pest control program and did not take additional action to control the problem,” the report reads. Inspectors were also informed that patients “became very upset and distressed as a result of witnessing cockroaches on food trays and transportation carts,” which sounds about right.
While the report just came out this week, the hospital dealt with the issue a year ago, according to a spokesperson. “The conditions present in May of 2016 when the VA Office of Inspector General visited the kitchen were unacceptable and have since been addressed. While we agree with OIG’s findings, it’s important to know that OIG also acknowledges that this issue is no longer present following the actions that we’ve taken over the past year,” said Rick Fox, the public affairs officer at Hines.
Their clean-up plan was multi-pronged, including new leadership, more staff for the food area, a rigorous new cleaning schedule, and repair to tiles and pipes.
“Providing a safe environment and quality care for our Veterans is our top priority, and that includes serving quality, nutritious food that is prepared and delivered under proper sanitary conditions,” Fox says.