Veterans discuss problems at Tomah VA hospital - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Veterans discuss problems at Tomah VA hospital

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The Tomah VA hosted its quarterly town hall meeting on Thursday and use of pain medication was a hot topic among veterans in attendance.

Recent allegations into the Tomah VA have put into question the care patients at the medical center have received.

Many of the allegations revolve around the over prescription of pain medications and one of the doctors at the center of the investigation is Dr. David Houlihan.

But several veterans at Thursday's meeting said they came to defend Dr. Houlihan, after receiving good care from him.

David Nance is a veteran of the Marines, Army and Navy and has been a patient at the Tomah VA since 2004.

He said he considers Dr. Houlihan a friend, not a foe.

"He's an amazing man, he cares about the patient, your best interest. He took the time to get to know me and understand what my problems were," Nance said.

Nance said Houlihan helped him through several deployments, weaning him off of several pain medications.

"I basically went from 18 different medications, nearly 43 pills a day, to seven medications a day," he said.

Nance said he came to Thursday night's town hall meeting with a few concerns for the Tomah VA.

'I don't think they have enough PTSD programs," he said. "I've had four friends die by their own hand in the last year."

The VA said it took note of all veteran concerns and plans to follow up with individuals.

"We're definitely going to work with the people that brought up concerns to address them and get them resolved," Stephanie McCrobie, a public affairs officer, said.

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Wisconsin veterans are meeting in Tomah to talk about problems they've had at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital there.

The town hall meeting comes as the hospital is under investigation for allegations of painkiller over prescribing practices and retaliatory behavior. The VA, the VA Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration launched separate probes.

A VA report Tuesday said patients at the hospital have a higher likelihood of receiving high doses of narcotics including benzodiazepines and opioids than those at other VA hospitals. The report also found a culture of fear among employees that compromised patient care.

A 35-year-old Marine died of an overdose in the hospital's inpatient care unit in August.

WXOW's Caroline Hecker is in Tomah at the meeting. She'll provide details of tonight's meeting on the 10 pm Report following WIAA basketball.


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