September 27, 2007 in Nation/World

Report says Walter Reed fixes lagging

Washington Post The Spokesman-Review

WASHINGTON – More than half a year after disclosures of systemic problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals, the Pentagon’s promised fixes are threatened by staff shortages and uncertainty about how best to improve long-term care for wounded troops, according to a congressional report issued Wednesday.

Army units developed to shepherd recovering soldiers lack enough nurses and social workers, and proposals to streamline the military’s disability evaluation system and to provide “recovery coordinators” are behind schedule, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

Members of a congressional oversight committee, discussing the report at a hearing Wednesday, said the effort to reform the medical bureaucracy has itself become mired in bureaucracy.

“After so many promises but so little progress, we need to see more concrete results,” said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., the ranking Republican on the panel, who said his staff hears “appalling stories” every week from soldiers dealing with the disability process. “They’re trapped in a system they don’t understand and that doesn’t understand them,” he added.

“The pace of change is frustratingly slow,” added Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the oversight committee. “Still the horror stories continue.”

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