Hospital removes chief exec after dirty tools risked 2,500 veterans

The Miami Veterans Administration (VA) hospital is holding its chief accountable for improperly washed colonoscopy equipment that may have exposed 2,500 veterans to diseases, reports the Miami Herald. More than two years after notifying the affected vets, the hospital is removing Mary Berrocal from her job. She will be temporarily replaced by West Palm Beach VA Medical Center Director Cheri Szabo.

"VA leadership decided that even though Miami is making great strides to improve clinical care, too much attention had been focused on the current director to let her continue to do her job," said Florida VA spokeswoman Mary Kay Hollingsworth.

Earlier this year, Berrocal and her chief of staff, John Vara, also were "admonished," a punishment remaining on their records for two years.

After the colonoscopy scandal, the VA's Administrative Investigation Board began inspecting the Miami VA facility and found it to have "poor quality control, lax supervision and sloppy procedures," notes the Miami Herald.

Of the thousands of vets exposed to the dirty tools, five later tested positive for HIV, eight for hepatitis C, and one for hepatitis B. According to VA officials, there is no way to verify they were infected by the improperly cleaned equipment. Nevertheless, the infected patients have been guaranteed free lifetime care.

To learn more:
- read the Miami Herald article