VA emails reveal blood on ceiling and roaches in operating room at Bay Pines Hospital

Drain problems at VA caused issues for two years
Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 18:21:09-04

Blood stains on a ceiling and cockroaches in operating rooms are among the issues our I-Team uncovered in emails involving maintenance problems at Bay Pines VA Hospital.

“Today, we no longer use those drains,” said VA Public Affairs Officer Jason Dangel.

He said that maintenance workers at Bay Pines recently sealed off a faulty operating room drain that caused problems at the hospital for more than two years.

“There were several attempts to repair the piping,” Dangel said.

Emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act describe a "blood stained" ceiling in the hospital’s audiology conference room.

Records show the room was shut down for a few days in late 2014 and several weeks in late 2016 after contaminated liquid repeatedly leaked from the ceiling above.

The leakage came from faulty drains in operating rooms above and contained dangerous and hazardous materials.

“In an operating room obviously, we're doing operations, we're doing surgeries, so there will be bodily fluids,” said Dangel.

There were also bugs.

An email from last July said, "There were more cockroaches creeping out of the drains in OR 8 and 9. This happened before and we kept on calling the pest control, but it is not helping at all."

The author of the email is not known, since it was redacted before it was released.

The person who replied said, “We cannot have cockroaches in our OR.”

“Anytime there is a pest control issue experienced, especially in an area that has to be sterile, those procedures do not continue. They're stopped. Appropriate action is taken,” said Dangel, who said no patient’s health or safety was ever put at risk by the presence of the roaches.

“I have never seen the first cockroach there yet,” said veteran Jerry Marstellar.

“I'm not saying they don't have some problems, but every time I turn around, I see them improving it,” he said.

Marstellar says the Bay Pines VA saved his life when he was having a heart attack last year.

The Bay Pines maintenance staff completes 40,000 work orders a year on 33 buildings, which date back to 1933.

 The main hospital building with the faulty drain was built in 1983.

 “I think our folks stay on top of it the best they possibly can, but it's certainly issues that we face,” Dangel said of maintenance issues.

 Bay Pines Hospital is the fifth busiest VA in the nation, serving over 4,000 patients a day.

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