On June 21, a 76-year-old veteran took his own life in the parking lot of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island, New York.
Peter A. Kaisen, who was a patient there, was pronounced dead at the scene, said the Suffolk County Police Department.
Although Kaisen’s family declined to comment, a note posted on a funeral home’s website indicates he was married with children and grandchildren, reports the Daily Mail.
Two anonymous employees at the medical center told The New York Times that Kaisen had been frustrated after being unable to see an emergency room physician about his mental health.
“He went to the ER and was denied service,” said one of the sources. “And then he went to his car and shot himself.”
The employee wondered why Kaisen had not been referred to the center’s mental health facility, considering that there was no psychologist on duty at the ER. “Someone dropped the ball,” the source concluded.
Christopher Goodman, a spokesman for the hospital, disputes that claim, asserting that there “was no indication that he presented to the ER prior to the incident.”
In a statement, Goodman said “the employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy.”
Because the death occurred on federal property, the FBI is carrying out the investigation, said Suffolk County detective Lt. Kevin Beyrer.
Controversy is nothing new at the Northport VA, which recently closed all five of its operating rooms because of “sand-size black particles began falling from air ducts,” as the first reported by The New York Times in May 2016.
The hospital is part of the VA medical system, which is the nation’s largest integrated health care organization, and which has been heavily criticized for poor service and mismanagement.