ttsburgh Post GazetteA senior financial manager resigned after a colleague who was riding in the government vehicle he was driving while drunk was killed in an accident. A few months later, the VA rehired him at a six-figure salary. ‘?They don’t want to seem to hold anyone …
At least 40 veterans on a secret waiting list at the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix have died while waiting months — in some cases a year or more — for appointments, a whistleblower told CNN.
The secret waiting list was a scheme by managers to get around the VA rule that patients should see a doctor within 30 days of making an appointment, CNN was told by Sam Foote, a doctor who recently retired after practicing for 24 years at the Phoenix hospital.
When vets asked for appointments, their requests weren’t entered in the official computer system, he said. Their data were kept instead on a secret list. Only when an appointment with a physician could be scheduled within 14 days was it entered into the official system.
This gave “the appearance they were improving greatly the waiting times, when in fact they were not,” Dr. Foote said.
If a vet died while waiting for an appointment, his or her name was deleted from the secret list. There was no official record he or she had ever asked for treatment.
Now that VISN 4 is Moreland free I’d like to turn my attention to another pet peeve, the use of former Soviet Officers to treat veterans.The VA should be required to fire all former Soviet Military Officers, who are physicians or at least require that they disclose their former Soviet status to patients!
As shocking as this sounds, the VA currently employs physicians who are former Soviet officers to treat veterans.
It is inappropriate for veterans to be treated by former Soviet officers, particularly, if the physician does not disclose his prior status, it is particularly offensive, when Cold War era veterans receive psychiatric treatment from a former Soviet officer who may lack the basic understanding of our culture necessary to treat our veterans’ mental illnesses.
The VA should be required to fire these former soviet officers, or at a minimum require them to disclose their former Soviet military status so that veterans may chose whether they want to receive treatment from another medical provider.
As I have received some comments that my claim that the VA employs former Soviet Officers is baseless, and is completely without merit, and that I am crazy for saying such things here are some quotes form the deposition of the VA doctor in question, Iv’e omitted the name of the medical school that he attended because that would make it too easy to figure out which VA hospital I’m referring to:
Q………You went to medical school in —
A. I went to medical school in Russia. And where did you go?
A. The name is ———————————
Q. And could you tell me, when did you graduate from —————–
A. June, 1991.
Q. And how long is medical school or was medical school in Russia at that time?
A. Six years.
Q. And after you graduated from medical school in Russia, what did you do?
A. I did my — I did my residency in OB-GYN and after that I practiced as an OB-GYN.
Q. You practiced as an OB-GYN physician for how long?
A. 1990 till 1992.
Q. When you went to medical school in Russia, was it necessary for you to have any level of military service or governmental service obligation as a result of that education?
A. As a part of our education we went to we studied military medicine and also while in medical school we went to a special summer camp for two months and when I graduated I received I was lieutenant medical something. I had the rank of lieutenant.
Q. And was that in the Soviet Army, Navy?
A. Lieutenant of the Reserve..
Remember you saw it first here!
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) –
Thomas Talbot and a group of soldiers proudly served their country.
They said in return they don’t require much, only that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides support mentally to help deal with post traumatic stress disorder, a condition they developed as a result of their time fighting in the Vietnam War.
One of ways they help each other deal with PTSD is to meet together in a small room inside the VA hospital in Saginaw. Dennis Deel said being around others who understand what each other went through is better than any medication a doctor can prescribe.
Recently these veterans said they found out the VA was cutting back on the meeting from once a week to once every two weeks. Talbot said he’s afraid the group meeting will eventually be phased out completely and none of them understand why.
The VA in Saginaw said there is no plan to get rid of the group meeting. Although the support groups were reduced to meeting twice a month, the allotted time was extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes.
The veterans said in the future they would like to see even more group therapy then what they had to begin with and they fear twice a month is not enough for some.
Talbot said most soldiers want to forget about what happened when they return home. So those who may be suffering from PTSD inadvertently de
FOX NEWS INSIDER – An update to bring you following last week’s shocking reports about “secret waiting lists” within the veterans health care system in Arizona. Reports indicated at least 40 veterans died while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix VA Medical Center, prompting calls for an investigation and Senate hearings.
The man who blew the whistle on the alleged secret lists, Dr. Sam Foote, talked to Martha MacCallum this morning. Foote, who worked for 24 years in the Phoenix VA system, pointed the finger at Sharon Helman, director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, who denies any knowledge of “secret lists.”
Foote said the list amounted to a “scam” that began in February 2013. He charged that Helman “came up with” the idea in an effort to “further her career and get a bonus.”
Foote accused the VA hospital of creating a paper file when a new patient came in, but not adding that patient to the electronic database. He said the idea was to “evade the VA’s creation date software, which is how they track the actual, real waiting times.”
MANILA, Philippines (AP) – President Barack Obama says the U.S. will get to the bottom of whether veterans were denied help they needed at a VA hospital in Arizona.
Obama says he immediately ordered Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to investigate following allegations that up to 40 Arizona veterans died while awaiting medical appointments at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center.
Obama says he takes the allegations, quote, “very seriously.” He says an inspector general is also investigating.
Obama says he wants to ensure not a single U.S. veteran lacks the help they need. He says he’s increased the VA’s budget more than any other agency in his government.
Obama spoke at a news conference in Manila while traveling in the Philippines.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
President Obama said today that his administration is going to look into allegations that 40 veterans in Arizona died while waiting for medical appointments at the VA health care center in Phoenix. Carrie Jung has been covering this story for HERE AND NOW contributing station KJZZ. She’s with us from Phoenix. Carrie, remind us what this is all about. It came to light because of a congressional report.
CARRIE JUNG: Yes, it came to light a few weeks ago because of a congressional report that alleged that about 40 veterans may have died as a result of a delay in care. There have been some allegations of very long waiting times for these veterans to receive care at the Phoenix VA medical center.
HOBSON: And how is the VA there explaining itself or defending itself?
JUNG: Well, according to Senators McCain and Flake, who had met with VA administrators just a couple of weeks ago, they had denied the allegations of what they were – they’ve been accused of having secret waiting lists that misrepresented the amount of time that veterans were waiting for appointments.
And so according to Senator McCain, the administrators were denying those allegations.
HOBSON: And what are veterans there saying?
JUNG: Veterans are – well, they’re pretty pleased with the amount and level of response from Washington that they’re seeing, but on some level they’re also pretty frustrated. One veteran who attended the press conference that McCain and – where Senators McCain and Flake attended a few weeks ago, she spoke up and said that, you know, what are veterans supposed to do right now who are waiting for care and need care immediately.
HOBSON: And now we’ve got these comments today from President Obama, who is in Asia and talking about this and more attention on Capitol Hill. Carrie, this is all coming as there’s a bill in Washington being pushed to perhaps deal with this.
JUNG: Yes, so the Phoenix chapter of Concerned Veterans for America says they’ve been organizing some rallies and also pushing for the Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014. And that’s basically just to make it a little bit easier to firm some management at the VA, just everywhere, not just the Phoenix VA center. But it would solve problems like this, so that this doesn’t happen again.
HOBSON: Carrie Jung…
JUNG: According to them.
HOBSON: Carrie, great, thank you so much, reporter with KJZZ in Phoenix. Thanks a lot, Carrie.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, wants to see VA Secretary Eric Shinseki appear at a committee field hearing he is planning to hold in the Tampa area.
“It would be nice of him to come down,” said Miller, speaking at a press conference with Gov. Rich Scott Friday afternoon. “I believe Secretary Shinseki wants to do the right thing, but I fear he is not being told the truth by his subordinates.”
VA officials did not immediately respond late Friday afternoon.
The press conference, at American Legion Post 139, was part of an on-going election year push to get more information from the VA.
Scott, spurred by stories and an editorial in the Tribune about deaths and injuries at VA facilities as the result of treatment delays, called for greater transparency, as well as answers to questions about exactly when the deaths and injuries took place and whether anyone has been disciplined as a result,
At the press conference, Miller cited a litany of problems at VA facilities around the country, including a situation in Arizona uncovered by CNN, which reported that “at least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.”
Miller said he did not know if that situation exists in Florida.
“Again, it would be nice if we had complete confidence in the answers VA is providing us,” said Miller. “Right now, we have been a little shaken by the fact that they keep denying things that we keep uncovering.”
Mary Kay Hollingsworth, a spokeswoman for the VA Sunshine Healthcare Network, said “there is no indication any of those practices were used in Florida.”
She added that she does not immediately know if anyone was disciplined as a result of the three deaths and nine injuries that took place in the Sunshine Healthcare Network, which covers Florida, south Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as the result of delayed colon cancer treatments between 2010 and 2012, or even if any discipline is warranted.
No deaths took place at either the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital or the C.W. “Bill” Young VA Medical Center, but there were two Young center patients and one Haley patient injured as the result of the delays, according to the VA, which has not provided information about who those patients were or exactly when they died.
Shortly after the Tribune reported on the deaths and injuries, Scott ordered inspectors from the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration to visit VA medical facilities, including Haley in Tampa and the Young center in Bay Pines.
VA officials turned the inspectors away, citing “federal guidelines and Privacy Act considerations,” according to Hollingsworth.
Robert L. Jesse, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, for the Veterans Health Administration spoke to AHCA Secretary Elizabeth Dudek, twice since April 18, sharing “extensive and voluntary external reviews that VA routinely engages,” said Hollingsworth. In addition, on Friday, the VA provided AHCA with much of the information about risk management practices AHCA is seeking. Scott, at the press conference, said he was not aware of that, adding he and AHCA officials would review the information.
In November, AHCA officials, citing privacy concerns, pulled inspection records of state hospitals off its website, according to spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman.
“These reports are still available through our public records office after removal of any potentially identifying information,” she said. “We have also identified another source for hospital inspection reports at: http://www.hospitalinspections.org/.”
Pittsburgh — where a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Department of Veterans Affairs health-care facilities killed six veterans and sickened at least 22 — isn’t the only place where the VA has betrayed its sacred mission. In Phoenix, top VA managers allegedly countenanced a scheme hiding year-plus waits for doctor’s appointments; at least 40 veterans died awaiting care.
Internal VA emails and information from a newly retired 24-year VA physician detailing these appalling allegations were confirmed by other Phoenix VA staffers, according to CNN. Dr. Sam Foote says the Phoenix VA maintained both a sham waiting list sent to VA officials in Washington, showing veterans getting appointments within 14 to 30 days, and a real, hidden list compiled from computer printouts that then were shredded.
He estimates 1,400 to 1,600 veterans were on that hidden list. And emails show the Phoenix VA director even defended that list’s use.
This is the latest of too many scandals for Veterans Affairs and its malfeasance worsens each time word of another breaks. That’s indicative of an embedded culture at odds with the VA’s mission, begging the question of what it will take to fix the agency.
Only a top-to-bottom overhaul — eradicating both disservice that threatens veterans’ lives and pervasive aversion to accountability — can rectify the disgraceful, too often fatal, mess that is the Department of Veterans Affairs.