Officials: Oklahoma City VA patient found dead in stairwell

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Officials say a patient at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Oklahoma City was found dead in a stairwell Wednesday evening.

Stacy Rine, the Public Affairs Officer for the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System, confirmed the death Thursday afternoon after News 4 received a tip.

Rine told KFOR that "no foul play" is suspected, but that the VA Police, Office of the Inspector General and the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner are conducting an investigation into the death.

"A veteran was found deceased Wednesday evening in the stairwell of the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center.  We are working with local authorities, Office of Inspector General, VA police and the medical examiner who are all investigating," Rine said in a statement to News 4.

"At this time, no foul play is suspected and VA leadership is reviewing the case in detail.  Upon completion of the investigation, a report from the medical examiner will be released and appropriate actions taken.  Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the Veteran."

"It’s very unfortunate that this happened," said Lorraine Childers of news of the veteran's death. "We don’t know any information and it’s not right to automatically tag the VA hospital as a bad hospital."

Childers' husband, Bill, a U.S. Army veteran, has frequented the Oklahoma City VA medical center for care for years.

"He’s been going to the Oklahoma City VA for over eight years now. And we haven’t had — between surgeries, ER visits and hospital stays, we’ve not had any problems," said Childers, who lives in Norman.

"I think just like any other hospital. Sure there’s constructions sometimes, sure an elevator might be out of order, there might be something spilled on the floor but there’s always someone that you can ask for help."

The veteran's name who died hasn't been released.

A spokesman with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in Washington, D.C., says it is "investigating the remains found" at the Oklahoma City VA Healthcare Center, but cannot comment further on an ongoing investigation.

Not all deaths at a VA facility are investigated by the OIG; only deaths are investigated when the OIG office has been notified.

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