Turn to Tara: VA neglect investigation prompts change

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The federal government responded to a Turn to Tara investigation that revealed a decorated veteran's corpse was neglected for months at the VA in Montrose.

News 12 first reported last year that the body of Newburgh resident Santos Colon, a Korean War veteran, was forgotten about for nearly four months before ultimately starting to liquefy.

News 12’s Tara Rosenblum filed a Freedom of Information request, and this week received a seven-page response from the office of the inspector general. The documents reveal new protocols were implemented to ensure something similar doesn't happen again.

The VA Hudson Valley health care team took the situation “very seriously” and apologized to the victim’s family. They insisted they “worked closely with them for burial with the utmost care.”

The group went on to call the incident “unfortunate” and “isolated” that “when discovered, was addressed immediately with care and sensitivity.”

Page five of the document indicates that plans are already in progress to try and prevent incidents like this from happening again. It read, “VA Hudson Valley has already begun its improvements with newly developed processes and updates to written policy.”

What the documents do not reveal is how the lapse occurred. A worker at the VA who asked to be kept anonymous recently emailed Turn To Tara with an explanation.

“There was no temperature control on the morgue freezer, which led to the freezers malfunctioning and no one knowing. Administratively, there was nothing done incorrect. However, there should have been monitoring of the equipment and there wasn't. The morgue at the Montrose Campus was neglected by the safety team,” said the email.

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