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As I See It

More reform needed at Tomah VA



We were shocked to learn what was happening at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tomah. Patients there being given high powered drugs like they were candy, earning the facility the nickname “Candyland” among patients. Tragically, some patients at the Tomah VA died, including Jason Simcakoski, who died of acute drug toxicity. This finally got the attention of the national VA, and the Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Carolyn Clancy has made repeated visits to Tomah. A new interim director has been put in place, but many of the changes thus far have to do with improving communication and morale among employees there. Now, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is working to address the issue of overprescription which brought these issues to light in the first place. Baldwin has authored the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Act to help prevent this tragedy. This legislation would do some of the things Secretary Clancy has already talked about, including exploring forms of pain relief other than powerful drugs. It would also increase oversight for the quality of care our veterans receive at VA hospitals across the country. It is good that Congress is now getting involved in approving patient care at the Tomah VA and elsewhere, because so far the reforms enacted have yet to get to the real root of the problem.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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