U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for an investigation and heightened safety measures after an inpatient veteran died of an overdose at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Haven, Connecticut.
The senator said his staff has heard allegations of misconduct, which may have been a factor.
Blumenthal wrote a letter to Linda Holiday, the deputy inspector general for the Officer of the Inspector General at the Department of Veteran Affairs, on Christmas Eve, stating he was "shocked and deeply saddened by the recent death of Zachary Greenough" at the VA medical center.
He said his staff has "received allegations of reprehensible misconduct at West Haven that may have led to Mr. Greenough's tragic death" and requested that Holiday investigate the death with the help of police.
"My staff has received information that Mr. Greenough obtained illegal drugs while living in a residential inpatient setting at the West Haven Campus," Blumenthal wrote. "A full and immediate investigation is essential concerning the specifics of this incident as well as systemic issues regarding staffing and security. In addition, there should be a review by your office and mental health experts as to whether this type of residential inpatient facility was appropriate under these circumstances."
He called the allegations "egregious" and said that while they're unconfirmed, they "raise serious questions about access to drugs and other broader issues that may implicate policies and procedures at the VA."
"Any misuse or abuse of drugs, especially causing death to a veteran, is inexcusable. I am sure you share my outrage and that your investigation will reflect the urgency of this issue," Blumenthal wrote to Holiday. "My staff can provide additional information, and I would appreciate your briefing them on the steps that you will take in response to this horrible tragedy."
NBC Connecticut reached out repeatedly to a spokeswoman for the facility on Saturday but has not yet heard back.
The spokeswoman told the New Haven Register an investigation is underway into a patient in the PTSD program who was found dead in a hospital bathroom.