ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Officials at the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis say that despite recent sterilization problems, veterans need to understand that the hospital is safe.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the hospital offered a tour to reporters on Wednesday. Officials said the biggest problem now is a crisis in confidence.
Last year, the hospital sent letters to 1,812 veterans potentially exposed to HIV and hepatitis due to faulty sterilization in its dental clinic. And on Feb. 2, another sterilization concern forced the hospital to suspend surgeries, which remain on hold.
Officials say up to 70 patients have had operations canceled since stains were found on surgical trays and tools this month. The hospital performs procedures for cataracts, hernias, orthopedic problems and general surgeries, along with high-tech robotic removals of cancerous prostate glands.
About one-third of the 70 veterans have received operations at other hospitals, at the VA's expense.
Medical center director Rima Nelson said the surgical shutdown and investigation that followed have cost the facility hundreds of thousands of dollars.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)