House investigates VIP ward at Walter Reed
House investigators are looking into allegations that Walter Reed Army Medical Center is providing better-than average accomodations to VIP patients in a plush ward at the main hospital, USA Today reported on Friday.
The Eisenhower Executive Nursing Suite features antique furniture, dining rooms with fine china, flat-panel televisions and bullet-proof windows, according to interviews and photos obtained by the newspaper.
Hospital administrators told USA Today the suites, which cost $950,000 a year to maintain, are reserved for high-ranking government and military officials, as well as foreign dignitaries. The only enlisted military eligible to stay there are recipients of the Medal of Honor.
“But the care is exactly the same … that is given to every other patient at Walter Reed,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Blanck, a former hospital commander and a recent patient in the ward during cataract surgery.
Officials told the newspaper that the staff-to-patient ratio is the same in the rest of Walter Reed as in the VIP ward.
Last month the Washington Post uncovered poor housing conditions in some patients’ quarters, prompting a host of federal investigations and the resignations of the secretary of the Army, the Army surgeon general and the hospital commander.
Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., told USA Today that a subcommittee charged with handling the congressional investigation will look into the VIP ward to see “if the allocations of resources is in any way adversely impacting the treatment of the troops.”