Veterans centers require report-seekers to visit facility
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Sunday, October 14, 2012
10/14/12 at 5:58 AM
To view or get copies of inspection reports at a veterans center in Oklahoma, an in-person visit is necessary, even though reports for state nursing homes are posted online.
The Tulsa World submitted open records requests for inspection reports dating back to 2009 to six of the seven veterans centers in the state. The center in Claremore has mailed copies of its reports at the World's request.
The six centers responded with the same form letter, which stated that the records were available for viewing at the facilities.
Lawton Veterans Center Director Terry Wilkerson said the center would not mail copies of its reports and again stated that they are available for viewing at the center.
"That's been our standard," he said.
The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs has been under scrutiny recently because of an 85-year-old veteran who died from complications of thermal injuries after being put in a whirlpool at the Claremore Veterans Center.
Before his death, another veteran at the same center was not taken to the hospital until about 10 hours after having a stroke. That veteran died about a week later.
Department officials have pledged to reorganize and put a focus on transparency.
State Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore, said he didn't think the veterans centers' records policy was in line with the department's pledge to be more transparent.
It's not a good business practice and suggests the centers have something to hide, he said.
"That tells you they don't want information to get out," Simpson said.
Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs interim Executive Director John McReynolds said the centers aren't trying to dodge public scrutiny.
"That's just the guidance we've used forever," he said.
Original Print Headline: Visit required for access to reports
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378