West Virginia Record

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

More families represented by attorney in Clarksburg VAMC allegations

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By Kyla Asbury | Sep 16, 2019


CHARLESTON — A Charleston attorney is now representing the families of five veterans whose deaths were deemed suspicious as part of the ongoing investigation into incidents that happened at the Clarksburg Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Last month, a notice of claim was filed involving the allegations.

Charleston attorney Tony O'Dell said on MetroNews "Talkline" he is representing the families.

"We don’t know whether this is just an unbelievably incompetent person, which is hard to believe, or if someone is doing this willfully to people who have served our country,” O’Dell said on the radio show.

The notice of claim was filed last month and noted the death of veteran Felix Kirk McDermott, who was a patient at the VAMC when he suffered a severely low blood sugar and died on April 9, 2018.

The claim alleges that the VAMC breached its affirmative duty to keep McDermott safe when he was an admitted patient of the VAMC and he was injected with a fatal dose of insulin.

McDermott was one of nearly a dozen patients of the VAMC who suffered unexplained severe hypoglycemia and the hospital was aware of each of the unexpected and suspicious deaths, according to the claim.

"At the time of Ret. Army Sgt. McDermott's death, nobody at the medical center told his family about the sudden and unexplained hypoglycemia that caused his death," the claim states.

It wasn't until several months later when government investigators contacted McDermott's daughter, Melanie Proctor, that the family was made aware that McDermott's death was not a result of natural causes, according to the claim.

McDermott's remains were disinterred on Oct. 23, 2018, and taken to Dover Air Force Base for autopsy. Proctor was informed by investigators that nine or 10 patients had been wrongfully injected with insulin in their abdomens, causing their deaths, according to the claim.

The Veterans Administration Office of Inspector General opened an investigation into the issue in July 2018 after leadership at the hospital reported an unexplained diagnosis of severe low blood sugar in several patients.

When the news broke, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he spoke with the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie and Clarksburg VAMC Director Dr. Glenn Snider to discuss the ongoing investigation into the suspicious deaths.

"Today I made sure to talk to Secretary Wilkie and Dr. Snider to make sure that their investigation into these deaths is accurate and thorough," Manchin said. "I was also assured by both Secretary Wilkie and Dr. Snider that the person of interest is no longer in any contact with Veterans at the VA facility."

Manchin said the crimes are shocking and he is appalled they were not only committed but that veterans, who have sacrificed so much for the country, were the victims.

"As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee I will do everything in my power to investigate these accusations and get to the bottom of what happened," Manchin said. "These families and loved ones deserve answers as soon as possible and I will make sure they get them."

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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito

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