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Photos of filthy exam room at VA hospital go viral, hospital investigates, offers apology

Filthy exam room at VA hospital goes viral, hospital officials investigate, offer apology (Photo: Stephen Wilson/ KUTV)

(KUTV)- After pictures of a filthy exam room at the Salt Lake VA hospital went viral, Dr. Karen Gribbin, Chief of Staff at the VA Salt Lake City Healthcare System, offered an apology to Veteran Christopher Wilson and said an internal investigation is underway to determine why the vet was placed in a dirty room.

"Mr. Wilson should never have been placed in that room. I and the entire facility apologize to him for that experience," she said.

Gribbin said while the internal investigation happens, hospital bosses are talking to staff about procedures and reminding them that giving veterans the best experience possible, in a good environment, is most important.

For now, nobody has been disciplined for the incident but Gribbin vowed to do everything she can to ensure another vet does not end up in a dirty exam room.

Gribbin said while she didn't know exactly where the breakdown occurred in the process of treating Wilson, she did know that the room had been used to treat eight other vets before Wilson in what was a "busy day" at the clinic.

The exam room was used earlier to apply plaster casts on the legs of other veterans who had diabetic ulcers on their feet.

The room isn't normally used at the time Wilson was there.

The pictures taken by Wilson showed dirty water, white splatter, and empty packages and other trash in the room.

Gribbin said the process of applying plaster casts is a messy one.Hospital officials said there was no reason to believe there was contamination of patients who were in the room, and when asked if the room was unsanitary , Gribbin said it was "unsightly".

Gribbin noted the staff should have moved Wilson to another room that was clean, but given that he was in the waiting room for 45 minutes, they wanted to give him care as soon as possible to keep him from waiting longer.

"The staff were focused on him and providing him care and just didn't see the state of the room, " she added.

Stephen Wilson, the father of Christopher Wilson, said while he appreciates the apology from Griffin, he thinks it falls short.

He does not believe the room was not contaminated when his son was there because the vets who were in there prior, had diabetic ulcers.

He thinks the garbage in the pictures are proof.

"Diabetic ulcers are by nature open wounds. To say there's no chance of cross contamination in the filthy environment, is not a correct statement," he said.

Wilson tweeted the photos posted by his son and the pictures were retweeted thousands of times.

He feels the exam room incident is a sign of greater problems at the VA.

"To me there's a systemic issue with the staff that services veterans ," he said.

He feels an internal investigation is not enough and would like to see an independent investigation too.

In addition, he has spoken to Senator Hatch's office about the incident. He's asked them to look into legislation that will give vets more choice about where they receive healthcare.

"It is not something I want to see my son subjected to again or any other veteran," he said.

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