ODVA Investigating Veteran’s Death In Talihina
TALIHINA, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating after a man died in the care of the Talihina Veterans Center. Now, four staff members have resigned.
The ODVA confirms the four staff members chose to resign before the termination process against them began. The state's Veterans and Military Affairs chairman, state Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore, believes a lack of hospital leadership is partially to blame for the death.
“There are no words that would suffice in this case,” said Simpson. “It’s inexcusable. It should never have happened.”
According to multiple published reports, Owen Peterson died in October after arriving at the Talihina Veterans Center with a wound infested with maggots. Reports say his death was caused by sepsis, a condition that stems from infection.
Simpson said the Talihina facility's head of nursing is among the employees who quit. Another of those workers has already been rehired elsewhere after investigations revealed he was not at fault.
“He was part of the group that was caring for that resident, but he was not directly involved in this incident,” Simpson said.
A statement from the ODVA said the agency is cooperating with the local district attorney and may take further personnel action.
“These people will not be put in a position to abuse another person, whether it be a veteran or an elderly person at a nursing home somewhere,” Simpson said.
A Navy veteran himself, Simpson is no stranger to the VA department's woes. He listened to complaints from Claremore, Norman and other facilities over the past five years, and he was part of the move to overhaul the administration of the state agency.
In this case, Simpson believes relocating the Talihina facility to a more easily accessible area will be the best long-term solution for both recruiting and retaining qualified staff members in the future.
“I know there are concerns about the economic impact it would have on the community, and those are serious concerns that we’ve got to take a look at, but my primary concern is to make sure we can provide the quality care that our veterans need,” he said.
Simpson is scheduled to meet with the ODVA executives Tuesday to discuss some of the options for the Talihina facility.