Susan Maddux is one of the almost 2,000 St. Louis area veterans that may have been exposed to diseases like Hepatitis B and C and HIV due to improper cleaning techniques for dental equipment and the John Cochran VA Medical Center.
“Veterans who use the dental clinic are mostly 100% service connected, so we are not well, and that leaves us open to catching something a lot easier than someone who is well,” Maddux said.
Maddux says from the very start, she has not been too pleased with how the VA has handled the matter. The 1,812 veterans were notified of the risk through the mail.
“I thought the letter was very impersonal. It’s the same as getting a letter in the mail stating that the front entrance to the VA is being closed,” Maddux said.
While the VA has said they do not think there is a very good chance someone was actually infected, that offers little piece of mind.
“Not only do I have to wait for my test results to come back, since my dental treatment was done less than 6 months ago, I have to be re-tested. So that’s at least another 6 months of worries of whether I have something, and if I do, will I give it to my family?” Maddux said.
She says she also wants to know why it took the VA four months from the time the problem was identified to notify her and other veterans about the possible exposure.
“Knowing that they knew about this since March and I’m just now hearing about it leads me to believe that they really didn’t want to come out with this, make it come out in the open,” Maddux said.
Congressman Russ Carnahan says if there was some sort of cover-up, “heads should roll.” There are also reports that an employee brought the problem to the attention of a supervisor as far back as August of last year. The possible exposure time frame ran from February 2009 to March 2010.