Issues

Report: VA Hospital Served Patients Food With Cockroaches on Trays

Administrators were aware of problem, failed to remove insects

Veterans Affairs
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A Chicago-area Veterans Affairs hospital repeatedly served patients food with cockroaches on the trays, and administrators failed to address the problem, according to a new inspector general report.

The insects were in many food service areas, including the kitchen at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Ill., the Washington Examiner reported Wednesday.

"During our unannounced site visit on May 10, 2016, we found dead cockroaches on glue traps dispersed throughout the facility's main kitchen," the IG report said. "We observed conditions favorable to pest infestation."

The hospital took no actions to correct the situation, staying with the pest control measures it already had in place.

Hospital staff members had complained about the cockroach problem on several occasions but the situation in the hospital did not improve, according to the report.

"We substantiated that at least several patients received food trays with cockroaches on them," the report said. "We reviewed emails from mental health staff to [nutrition and food service] managers from March 11, 2011 through December 28, 2015, and a [mental health] report dated March 13, 2014, that reported six complaints from patients that cockroaches were present on food trays delivered from the facility's main kitchen to the [mental health] unit via a transportation cart."

The report said that cockroaches were a "persistent problem" in and around the hospital's nutrition and food service areas.

One problem for the hospital, the IG found, is that it went through 10 different directors from 2011 to 2016 alone, preventing the VA center from having stable leadership.

Prior to his electoral loss in 2016, then-Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) had requested the hospital inspections along with then-Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.), who defeated Kirk in November.