WINK News Investigates: Unsanitary conditions at Tampa VA hospital

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TAMPA, Fla.- A hospital infested with roaches and rats is the latest in a series of problems for Veterans Affairs.

An email reveals dead rats and roaches turned up at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.

The VA is claiming to address the problem, but the father of a local veteran who has a history with the hospital, is not expecting much to change.

The email says three large, dead rats, fell through a ceiling, during construction work. Roaches were also reportedly found on food trays, served to patients.

The hospital admits a pest problem exists, near the food service areas.

“It goes right back to what we found a few years ago, and subsequently since then when we go back with other visits, it’s dirty,” said Dan Ashby.

Ashby is the father of Afghanistan veteran Corey Kent, who was a patient at the VA hospital.

In 2012, Ashby along with WINK News documented mold in the rooms, and other unsanitary conditions at the hospital.

The hospital made changes, but as Ashby has learned since, change  in government-run operations, can be fleeting.

“It boils my blood really. It’s a continuous thing,” said Ashby.

The hospital says it has hired a new pest control company, and set up an internal team to aggressively attack the  problem. It blames the hot and humid weather, and even construction near the hospital, for the influx of pests.

Ashby doesn’t buy the excuses.

“They don’t do anything pro-active, they’re always reactive. And so, someday they’ll get on this again and it’ll go right back to the way it was until somebody else brings it up again.”

Ashby says veterans deserve much better than what they might experience at Haley hospital and possibly other places. He believes nothing major will change, until a president or VA director really “takes charge” and shakes up the bureaucratic culture.

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