ROACHES IN THE FOOD – APPALLING! Our veterans deserve better than this!
It sounds like something out of a horror movie – the kitchen in a Chicago Veterans Affairs hospital is so overrun with cockroaches that they are crawling across the cabinets as meals are being prepared, and even getting into the patients’ food. And even worse – it’s being going on for YEARS!
Germaine Clarno, a social worker at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, has been working with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel as a whistleblower exposing secret appointment wait lists, but she is exposing the kitchen as well. She said she first noticed the problem three years ago, when she saw a roach crawling on a patient’s meal. Some veterans have refused to eat for days after seeing the roaches on their food, then caved in and just accepted it, according to staff interviews with Conservative Review.
Clarno said the floors and equipment are covered in a layer of grime. When she visited the kitchen and tried to document the filth, the food manager called the VA police to escort her out. Employees told her they have never seen a health inspector, but once in a while the VA does spray for bugs, although it hasn’t helped. An official with Orkin pest control said it’s possible the cockroaches have built up a resistance to the spray, and millions of bugs are likely hiding out in the walls and in kitchen machinery.
Dietician Kelvin Gilkey, who has been a VA employee for 33 years, said the kitchen staff is down 25 positions, and many have refused to come to work, for fear they will take the bugs home with them. He said there’s no one to clean in the kitchen. He reported the issue to the Joint Commission (a non-profit medial accreditation agency), and they have issued multiple citations. Also a complaint was filed with OSHA, who opened a file on March 4, but then closed the case on April 6 without even visiting the facility, because the VA “had shown proof that the problem was addressed” according to an OSHA director.
Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill) has sent a letter to the VA, pointing out that the food service area has been has been contaminated with the insects for years but it has been allowed to continue.
The VA has responded that the problem is under control. “Due to the nature of the work in the kitchen, there is a higher risk of pest activity. With that knowledge, the Nutrition & Food Services area at Hines VA Hospital has weekly inspections, and if needed, treatments from the exterminator. If there are any concerns outside of the weekly inspection, the exterminator is contacted and comes in to address any identified issues.”
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