• Director Of VA ‘Candy Land’ Facility In Tomah Was Just Fired

    Mario Desanctis, director of the VA facility in Tomah known for its over-the-top “Candy Land” prescription policies, has just been fired.

    At first it was unclear whether Desanctis was fired or simply quit, as acting facility director John Rohrer told employees only that Desanctis, an Air Force veteran, was no longer employed at the facility, The LaCrosse Tribune reports.

    At first, following reports that the Tomah facility suffered from an epidemic of opioid overprescription, the VA reassigned Desanctis to serve as an administrator for the Great Lakes Network, which has in its care 220,000 veterans spread across three states.

    But the reassignment didn’t stick. According to spokesman for Rep. Ron Kind, Desanctis has been “let go.”

    Desanctis took control of the Tomah facility in 2012.

    In August, the VA inspector general released a report showing that the death of Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski in 2014 was avoidable, but in fact resulted from prescribing him a lethal mixture of drugs, composed of over 12 different medications, without informing him or his family of the side effects. Even when he overdosed in the psychiatric unit, nurses did not perform resuscitation and declined to make use of the emergency call system. They decided to administer drugs designed to revive him a total of 30 minutes after he was first found in his condition. (RELATED: Report Blames VA For Avoidable Death Of Marine, Cites Abysmal Failures)

    The hospital recently stated that it was temporarily closing the psychiatric unit and transferring patients to other facilities in the region because of a shortage of staff.

    Other reports argue that at least five deaths can be attributed to the loose prescription policies of former chief of staff Dr. David Houlihan. Several whistleblowers out of Tomah have complained about retaliation and abuse following attempts to bring to light improper practices.

    Since the report was released, the VA fired one of the physicians in July, Dr. Ronda Davis, who had Simcakoski in his care.

    The facility is currently looking for a new director.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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