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When it Rains at the VA, It's Probably a Faulty Sprinkler System

Yesterday, we heard from a Friend of Unfair Park that the Dallas Veterans Administration Medical Center had a little mishap over the weekend. A handful of critical machines in the hospital ceased to function after a sprinkler line ruptured and flooded the floor. The hospital assures Unfair Park that staffers have repaired the offending sprinkler and that everything is under control, but it’s not really what you want to hear about the oft-criticized VA, especially in light of the scandal over horrific conditions at the military-run Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C., as well as a March KTVT- Channel 11 investigation into “neglect, incompetence and malpractice” at the Dallas VA.

A sprinkler line adjacent to the hospital’s MRI room ruptured at 11 p.m. Saturday night, and three CT scanners and one MRI machine ceased to function, says hospital spokeswoman Susan Poff. One of the machines has been repaired, and the staff hopes to have the rest up and running by the end of the week, she says. Our Friend, who works the VA's emergency room, said it was like "1973 down there," which is to say, not at all pleasant. Poff insists otherwise.

When asked how this affected the care delivered to veterans, she says "it’s had very little impact. We had CT scanners in another area of the hospital, and if we couldn’t take care of them here, we sent them out to a private facility. If it was an emergency, we were able to handle it here, and if it wasn’t an emergency but still needed to be done, we were able to send it out in the community.” Sure hope she’s right about that.

In other VA news, the North Texas administration has a new director. Joseph M. Dalpiaz, formerly director of Sioux Falls VA medical center in South Dakota, is taking the helm of one of the largest VA systems in the country, serving 500,000 veterans in 38 North Texas counties and two in southern Oklahoma. Looks like he has his hands full. --Megan Feldman

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