VA chief's visit to Marion finalized

MARION, Ill. (AP) -- The itinerary is set for the head of the nation's Veterans Affairs system to take a firsthand look at a southern Illinois VA hospital where major surgeries were halted because of a surge in patient deaths.

VA Secretary James Peake will tour the Marion VA on Saturday morning, then take part in a public town hall meeting from noon to 1 p.m. at Marion High School.

Federal lawmakers including Senator Dick Durbin and Congressmen Jerry Costello and John Shimkus are scheduled to take part.

Investigators say at least nine deaths between October 2006 and March 2007 were deemed "directly attributable" to substandard care at the Marion VA.

Two Kentucky widows are suing the federal government over their husbands' deaths there.

It isn't yet clear when major surgeries will resume at the site.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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