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Posted at 7:10 AM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 08:10:49-05
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The federal government has confirmed staff at Wisconsin's largest veterans home mishandled liquid oxygen and were told not to document the incident.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has substantiated a complaint alleging staff at the home in King allowed liquid oxygen, which is highly flammable, to leak into the ventilation system, The Capital Times reported Thursday.
According to the complaint, the home's security chief told a staff member who discovered the leak not to write a report, saying security staff had been told not to detail incidents any longer out of concerns the reports would be subject to the open records law. The CMS didn't cite the home because the problem has been fixed and a corrective plan has been put in place.
Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach filed the complaint with the CMS after receiving it from an anonymous whistleblower at the King veterans home in September. He also filed it with the state Department of Health Services, Gov. Scott Walker's office, U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan.
"We need an incident report," Erpenbach said. "That's really upsetting ... it needs to be documented."
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Kathy Marschmann told the newspaper the agency doesn't dispute the incident but didn't respond to questions about how the agency responded to the incident and what plans it has implemented.
The Capital Times also reported that CMS has issued the home seven citations involving residents' care, including instances where medical records weren't kept properly and doctors weren't notified of patients' health changes.
The Legislature's audit committee in September ordered a review of conditions at the veterans home at Republican Sen. Luther Olsen's request. Olsen told the Capital Times he's concerned the home is sweeping incidents under the rug.
DVA Secretary John Scocos announced in November he will resign in January. He has defended operations at the home.
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