A House committee is investigating the faulty heating and air conditioning system at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center and will hold a hearing about it on Long Island in September, a spokeswoman for Rep. Lee Zeldin said Wednesday.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee has been looking into a range of issues at the facility for more than a month, aided by whistleblowers and Long Islanders, and will conduct its field hearing Sept. 20, a committee aide said.
“Since news first broke regarding the faulty HVAC system at the Northport VA, our office has been contacted by several Long Islanders with allegations involving the Northport VA,” said a statement by Jennifer DiSiena, a spokeswoman for Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
“The past few months, our office has been working with these individuals to collect facts through meetings, phone calls and other forms of communication, to compile as much substantiation as possible as quickly as we could,” she said.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the committee chairman, in a July 29 letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald cited “reports of flooded pedestrian tunnels, damaged roofs, entirely vacant buildings, and a ruptured cooling tower.”
He also said, “Procurement records also show a prevalence of sole source and ostensibly competitive, one-bid facilities contracts, with a substantial amount of money going out the door for maintenance, but seemingly poor results.”
Calling reports of the “deteriorating” facilities “alarming,” Miller added, “The most troubling aspect of the whole situation is that the VAMC reportedly became aware of the problem in mid-February yet took no effort to notify the public or Congress until numerous media reports emerged.”
In a statement, the Northport VA Medical Center said, “We have a very good working relationship with Long Island’s congressional delegation. We stand ready to work with Congress and share their commitment to ensure that Long Island’s veterans receive the care they have earned and deserve.”
The committee began investigating the Northport VA facility before a 76-year-old veteran took his own life in its parking lot on Aug. 21.