Head Of Miami VA Hospital Out Following Colonoscopy Scandal

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -The head of the Miami Veterans Administration hospital has been temporarily replaced in the wake of the scandal which potentially exposed patients to diseases due to improperly cleaned colonoscopy equipment.

According to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald, Mary Berrocal’s interim replacement is West Palm Beach VA Medical Center Director Cheri Szabo.

Berrocal has been under intense scrutiny since the improper colonoscopy procedures were revealed in 2009. She had been “admonished” earlier this year, a punishment which stays on a person’s employment for two years. John Vara, chief of staff at the hospital received the same punishment. He is now working at another VA hospital.

The scandal broke when VA investigators learned that staffers were rinsing the colonoscopy equipment instead of steaming and sterilizing it as required by the manufacturer.

Of the 3,000 vets who were exposed, blood tests showed five later tested positive for HIV, eights for hepatitis C, and one for hepatitis B.

VA officials say there is not way to know for certain whether the improperly cleaned equipment transmitted the diseases. The infected patients have been promised free lifetime care.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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