Concord, N.H. -- ICYMI, Governor Chris Sununu yesterday tried to cover up an incomplete section in his so-called Veterans Home “report” after he was pressed by WMUR’s Adam Sexton. You can watch a video of the questioning here and read the transcript below.
One week ago, Sununu released a sham report that failed to investigate what caused the COVID outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. Sununu's report barely mentions the outbreak, but it does mention that the Veterans' Home received a virtual consultation from the VA on December 3, 2020 -- in the middle of the outbreak. The report, which uses a CDC template, left a box asking what recommendations were adopted based on that 12/3 consultation completely blank -- which Sununu failed to provide an explanation for.
Here are some key points from the questioning:
Adam Sexton: [00:35:46] in that same Section 9 of the states' report, it says, quote, "Please summarize any changes made in infection prevention and control practices as a result of the assistance from the federal VA. That section in the states' report was left blank. Do you have any explanation for why that part of the report didn't include that information?
Chris Sununu: [00:36:04] I don't know, unless there wasn't a I believe that I don't have it right in front of me, but I believe that that was really pertaining to the assistance received from the federal VA directly to the home. So, I don't know. I couldn't tell you why if it was left blank, because there was no assistance, I think there was; they had workforce assistance, if I remember correctly. But I can't I can't answer without it happening right in front of me.
Adam Sexton: [00:36:25] Well, it would appear the reports are incomplete.
Chris Sununu: [00:36:27] I, I can't I don't have right in front of me.
Adam Sexton: [00:38:02] Just to be clear, do you believe you can release and will you release that the VA report or the summary was delivered to you.
Chris Sununu: [00:38:12] I would have to go back and look to see. I don't know if I have the authority to release federal reports.
“Either Chris Sununu is trying to hide information from the public about the outbreak at the veterans home or the state didn’t act on any of the VA recommendations to keep veterans and nursing staff safe -- and either option is incredibly concerning,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Granite Staters, our veterans, and the hardworking staff at the Veterans Home deserve answers." A full transcript of the questioning is below: SEXTON: [00:34:29] Yeah, no, I'm just curious if we got a chance to read the veterans report, I had some follow up questions there. SUNUNU: [00:34:34] Sure. SEXTON: [00:34:35] In Section nine of the state's infection control assessment. It indicates that the VA did its own assessment during the COVID outbreak on December 3rd. Have you received and read that VA report? SUNUNU: [00:34:47] Are you talking about the veterans home not the Manchester VA? I just want to be very clear for everyone at home. SEXTON: [00:34:51] Well no but the actual VA did a virtual assessment on December 3rd during the outbreak. SUNUNU: [00:34:55] I received a summary on that on that report. I don't know if we have a finalized report. I don't know if there was a final report submitted to HHS. But we got a summary of that report from the Commandant herself. But again, that was kind of during the whole process and that was a matter of do you have what you need? What are you lacking? You know, what's happening with staffing, training, protocols, things of that nature in the moment. We couldn't send the team in during the outbreak. Obviously, we had to wait till after that. And when we did send in the team with this report, they followed the CDC guidelines for infection, for infections, for long term care facilities, exactly as the CDC outlined. And that's why, you know, it was nice to see that there were so many positives out of that report. I think there's some good lessons learned, new training protocols and and things like that, that we have to make sure that we not just put into place, but make sure that we're repeating in training too, constantly. But overall, I think it was a very thorough report. SEXTON: [00:35:46] in that same Section 9 of the states' report, it says, quote, "Please summarize any changes made in infection prevention and control practices as a result of the assistance from the federal VA. That section in the states' report was left blank. Do you have any explanation for why that part of the report didn't include that information? SUNUNU: [00:36:04] I don't know, unless there wasn't a I believe that I don't have it right in front of me, but I believe that that was really pertaining to the assistance received from the federal VA directly to the home. So, I don't know. I couldn't tell you why if it was left blank, because there was no assistance, I think there was; they had workforce assistance, if I remember correctly. But I can't I can't answer without it happening right in front of me. SEXTON: [00:36:25] Well, it would appear the reports are incomplete. SUNUNU: [00:36:27] I, I can't I don't have right in front of me. So I really can't I haven't I haven't heard that as a complaint or concern. But we can we can follow up on it, because if I may-- SEXTON: [00:36:38] But should that be made public, I guess, is this something that -- it's a report that's complete by the federal VA that within the time frame of the actual outbreak, shouldn't the public be able to see that now? SUNUNU: [00:36:47] I would think s--at some point I--I don't--it's all about timelines. Sorry. Just to be clear, as soon as the report is done, obviously you've got to give folks a chance internally to review it and make sure that, you know, take any actions that might have to be taken immediately or whatever it is, and then an appropriate time. Of course, you make all that public and you release that publicly. So I don't know the timeline we're talking about. And if it's a federal report, are you talking about the federal report? SEXTON: [00:37:10] Yeah. So the state report includes a section that says, essentially, please, you know, see what changed from the federal report. But that's blank. It's just, there's no information there. SUNUNU: [00:37:18] I can't comment on the federal report because that's not the state report we didn't do the federal report. SEXTON: [00:37:22] The state report says please summarize. SUNUNU: [00:37:24] Yeah. SEXTON: [00:37:24] What was in the federal report. SUNUNU: [00:37:25] Again, we can we can go back and, you're kind of going back to the previous question you just asked, we can go back and look in to see, you know, why certain things may have not been included or or if there was anything, if there just wasn't anything to report in that section. But the thing I guess I want to stress is this isn't just done right will continue kind of a constant review process, not just during COVID, but even outside of COVID once we get on the outside of this thing. Just to make sure that, again, we're constantly reviewing ourselves, an internal review, what are the needs, where are the gaps in the system? Where are the training protocols need to be updated, whatever it might be. So this isn't like a one and done. We're just going to constantly update ourselves and make sure that we're staying on top of it. SEXTON: [00:38:02] Just to be clear, do you believe you can release and will you release that the VA report or the summary was delivered to you. SUNUNU: [00:38:08] The state report? SEXTON: [00:38:10] The VA--the federal report, that--(unintelligible) SUNUNU: [00:38:12] I would have to go back and look to see. I don't know if I have the authority to release federal reports. That's I'm not the federal government. So I honestly, I don't want to commit to something here when I just don't know what authority I would have with a federal report. That may have to come from the feds and the Manchester VA, we don't run the Manchester VA. So, and that that side of the system, if you will, we, you know, when it comes to the New Hampshire veterans home, that's a state run facility. That's where we do the the internal investigation and which was done very well, very thoroughly. I got to be cautious. I just don't know the rules surrounding the federal report aspect of this. SEXTON: [00:38:46] From a talking point, standpoint, though, should the public know? I mean, should the public know a general idea of what-- SUNUNU: [00:38:49] Oh sure. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I don't think there's any question about about, you know, keeping information private or anything like that. It's really, I think, more of a timing thing. But I can't I just can't speak to the full report. I'm sorry, you know. Yeah. [00:39:02]