NORTHPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Accusations of patient neglect and suicide consumed much of a congressional hearing on veteran’s affairs at a VA hospital on Long Island on Tuesday.

Northport VA Medical Center Director Phil Moschitta says the hospital did not turn away a patient that later committed suicide in the hospital’s parking lot, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported.

Earlier this year, Peter Kaisen, 76, a retired police officer from Islip, was found in a parking lot at the medical center suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.

“There weren’t suicides here,” Moschitta said. “There weren’t two veterans. One was a staff employee, the other one by a car exam, indicated that he died of other issues. So you’re gonna see a continuous array of falsehoods because people have other issues here.” 

His wife, Joan Kaisen, told Newsday earlier this year he had been suffering from back pain so bad he was unable to sit for more than a few minutes. Doctors at Northport told her husband earlier this year there was nothing more they could do to ease his suffering, she said.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, veterans expressed their frustration with their treatment at the facility.

“They don’t care if they help you or not,” Joe Caffiero said.

“The medical department is in shambles,” Hutch Dubusque said, “They delayed my operation for over 3 months.”

The hearing was called by Long Island’s congressional delegation following a deluge of complaints.

“I don’t want to see this with any other vet. They’re there giving their lives for us and this is pathetic,” Kaisen said.

Moschitta told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that the FBI investigation will clear the hospital of what he called “false charges.” Moschitta instead blamed the accusations on what he called “false agendas.”

“I’m not interested in pointing fingers, I’m interested in getting to the bottom of this and getting solutions,” Rep. Steve Israel, who is a member of the Committee on Veterans’ affairs, said.

The grilling eventually turned to crumbling infrastructure — leaky roofs, flooding, and the shuttering of operating rooms due to rust particles in ducts.

“I’m looking at the ceiling here. Is that bad duct work that has black material?” Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY) asked. “I’m not an expert, but we clearly have to clean it.”

There have also been allegations of fraud, that the staff cold called patients to pad bills.

“There is not fraud,” Moschitta said, “We would welcome someone coming in and taking a look.”

Moschitta blamed federal funding — often requested, rarely delivered.

“The ultimate responsibility is not to hold a field hearing, it’s to vote on long term veterans budgets,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said.

At the end of the hearing, committee members said it’s just the beginning of the investigation, a possible audit, and improved communication.

Members said it shouldn’t have to take a congressional hearing to find out about veterans care.

The FBI is reviewing surveillance videos and hospital records to determine if Kaisen was first turned away.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (5)
  1. VA DEATHCARE ONE BIG BIG FEDERAL RICO CRIME RACKET RUN FOR AFGE UNION CONTRACTS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      1. VA BUDGET FOR 2016 172 BILLION $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ FOR 2017 182 BILLION $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ PENDECO VETS ITS NOT ABOUT THE $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  2. suzannedream,
    I do not know if you are a veteran or not. I am, and I have served 18 months in a combat zone in Korea. The VA hospital lacks the leadership that is so necessary and running a facility that deals with very very sick people. Many of the staff including the doctors look at the patient’s as being old and not worthy of any extraordinary care because they’re going to die soon anyway. I have had horrible experiences at the VA including being given wrong treatment that could have killed me, an assault by a VA policeman and substandard care by some very disinterested doctors. I also have had great treatment from the doctors, nurses and other personnel who cared. In the end it is a director’s job to ensure that the hospital is doing what is necessary to maintain a high standard of care. This Director is more interested in public relations than he is in his job. I wanted to speak at the hearing but was told that they had enough speak and were not interested in what I had to say even though I have been a patient at the VA hospital for over 24 years. This hearing will be like most other governmental hearings- a lot of verbiage and very little is a shame that people who served in the defense of our country are now considered extraneous. But since this is a Republican committee I expect it will be printed and shelved and when the budget for the VA comes up they will refuse to give them the money they need to be able to furnish quality care to the vets who need the hospital. To get angry at CBS is another way of avoiding the truth: this VA Hospital needs a lot of work but this committee is not going to do anything to help. But it makes for good publicity and that is important to the committee.

  3. suzannedream says:

    We deserve to read articles based on facts, truth, and unbiased reporting of events. I cannot find any of this in this article. What has happened to the journalist’s responsibility of fact checking and going after the truth?

    THREE deaths were discussed- not two. The medical director commented on how two deaths were not deemed as suicide. He acknowledged that one was a suicide and discussed investigation.

    You misquoted a widow of all people- shame on you.

    There are problems in healthcare as a whole- more problems are found in private medical centers in our community. Our veterans do deserve the best, and the community providers are certainly not the answer.

    Outreaching Veterans and actually attempting to take care of a population is not fraud- it is best practice. The source of this allegation is a nurse who was used to working in the private sector where they only focus on the patients who show up, ignore no-show/no-calls, and do not have any follow up or any responsibility once they are discharged or leave may not understand these efforts that the rest of the healthcare community is missing. There are many people in our communities falling through the cracks that would benefit from outreach and case management.

    This article is not fair or balanced and I expect more from CBS.

    I miss the days when I could read an article written by a journalist with integrity- not a glorified blogger.

Leave a Reply