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Inhofe gets promise on Oklahoma veterans hospitals

WASHINGTON _ Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday he will allow the Senate to vote on a key nominee for the Veteran Affairs Department now that he has received assurances that VA hospitals in Oklahoma will be evaluated by an outside group.

Linda A. Halliday, deputy inspector general at the department, sent Inhofe a letter saying, "We are committed to coordinating and collaborating with an outside accreditation organization on simultaneous site visits and reports of these facilities."

Oklahoma lawmakers have received numerous complaints about problems at the VA hospitals in Muskogee and Oklahoma City. USA Today and The Oklahoman have documented cases of poor care and questionable management.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has been dissatisfied with the results of previous inspections by the VA's inspector general's office. And, early this month, he placed a "hold" on the nomination of Michael Missal to be the inspector general _ the top watchdog _ at the VA.

Inhofe said he would only allow a vote on Missal if the VA would commit to a review of the hospitals by an organization that accredits private hospitals.

In her letter to Inhofe, Halliday said the VA's inspector general's office will initiate reviews at the two hospitals, looking first at its own previous inspections and complaints received by Oklahoma lawmakers. Then the office will conduct site visits, coordinated with an outside accreditation group, before writing new reports.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Inhofe said Tuesday, "It’s time for our VA facilities in Oklahoma to be held to that same standards as private hospitals, and I believe it will take the aid of an outside group to make this happen."



Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›