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West Haven VA Explosion: After Receiving Whistleblower Worker Safety Complaints, Blumenthal Demands Inspector General Investigation

“My paramount concern is that the West Haven VA facility is safe for workers and patients.” “These healthcare heroes have been working tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that our veterans receive the best care possible, and they must be provided with safe working conditions.”

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, in letters to VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal and Director of VA Connecticut Healthcare System Alfred Montoya, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) urged a review of policies and practices at the West Haven VA Medical Center after Blumenthal’s office received complaints that the VA was aware of life-threatening safety dangers prior to the deadly explosion at the VA Hospital in West Haven which took the lives of Euel Sims, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee, and Joseph O’Donnell, a VA contractor on November 13, 2020.

“In the weeks following this accident, my office has been contacted by whistleblowers--VA facilities employees and contractors--who allege that safety and personnel issues continue to affect the work environment at the West Haven VA,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter to Missal. “According to these whistleblowers, regular and emergency maintenance and repair work has been continually delayed, resulting in an unsafe and potentially life-threatening working environment for West Haven VA employees.”

Following the explosion, Blumenthal called for a full and complete investigation, in addition to immediate action by VA Connecticut leadership. Since then, VA employees and contractors have contacted Blumenthal’s office regarding unresolved, potentially life-threatening safety and personnel issues ranging from 2018 to the present.

“Most urgently, there is an immediate need for action by VA Connecticut leadership to protect current employees and patients by repairing and remediating any and all maintenance issues that could lead to serious injury or death. I strongly urge you to conduct an internal audit to identify any emergent safety issues that must be remedied, and fully cooperate with the VA OIG investigators should they launch an inquiry,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter to Montoya.

The full text of the letter to Director Montoya can be found here. The full text of the letter to Inspector General Missal can be found here.