VA Healthcare Problem

The VA is under fire for the deaths of 40 veterans who died while

Injuries incurred by service members are cover...

waiting for VA health care in Arizona.  This comes after the VA sent a press release touting the greatness of their healthcare.

VA Press Release

On April 16, 2014, the VA announced that a 2013 survey conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), an independent customer service survey company, “. . . ranks the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) customer satisfaction among Veteran patients among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.”  (Click here for the release).   I guess they did not survey those veterans who experience long wait times to see doctors and other practitioners.  Almost all of the veterans I have had the pleasure of meeting tell me the VA health system is not good.  I talked to one veteran who was transitioning from the Reserves to civilian life and had been waiting over 1 year to just be accepted to the VA healthcare system.

VA Healthcare Problem in Arizona

Recently, allegations have been made by a doctor and others at the Phoenix, Arizona VA healthcare facility that the director, Sharon Helman, manipulated computer files regarding the time it was taking to get veterans in for a doctor appointment.  “The Arizona Republic” newspaper received information from Sam Foote, a retired doctor from the Phoenix VA healthcare office brought information forward about the allegations.  The allegations are that over 1,400 veterans waited longer than the 2 weeks for an appointment to see a healthcare provider even though the records indicate they were given an appointment within a 2 week time.  The allegations go on to indicate that 40 of these veterans died as a result of the delays in care.  An investigation is ongoing. (Click here for the story).

Anthony Principi, former VA Secretary, stated that if the allegations are true then people need to be held accountable.  The interview revealed that not only has Dr. Foote made allegations, but several others have well and emails have been produced.  Mr. Principi stated that if these allegations are true, then high ranking officials within the VA Healthcare system knew or should have known of these problems.   (Click here for a news story on the Arizona allegations).

To add to this problem, Sharon Helman, used to run a Washington state VA facility that allegedly fudged suicide numbers.  She was the director of the Spokane, WA VA facility.  In 2007 and 2008, Military.com and several media outlets found the reported suicide numbers were inaccurate.  Shortly after the report of the falsified information, she was moved to the VA facility in Hines, IL.  She later moved to Arizona to be the director of the Phoenix, AR VA healthcare system.

In a statement to FoxNews.com, VA spokeswoman Jean Schaefer said the agency has asked for an independent review regarding the claims in Arizona.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cares deeply for every veteran we are privileged to serve, and we are committed to delivering the highest quality care,” Schaefer said. “The Phoenix VA Health Care system takes these issues very seriously and invited the independent VA Office of the Inspector General to complete a comprehensive review of these allegations.”

But veterans advocates said Helman’s transfers are part of the government agency’s pattern of shuffling officials around instead of holding them accountable.

“This is not the first time that Sharon Helman has been involved in an incident involving manipulation of patient data,” said Pete Hegseth, chief executive officer for Concerned Veterans for America. “She fudged the number of veterans suicides at a previous job — and was never fired. She just moved.”

(Click here for the story).

These are just allegations and from one facility.  However, if you talk to veterans, they do not seem to be as content with the VA healthcare as indicated by the survey done by ACSI.  Is this just the tip of a larger problem or an isolated case.  Either way, veterans have lost their lives because of it.  A tragedy indeed.

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