Tags: Phoenix | Veterans Affairs

Watchdog: Phoenix VA Still Plagued by Long Waits for Medical Care

Image: Watchdog: Phoenix VA Still Plagued by Long Waits for Medical Care

VA Health Care Center in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Jan 2017 08:59 AM

The Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix, for nearly three years a poster child for negligent care of its military veterans, continues to be plagued by long waits in administering medical care, a watchdog said Tuesday.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said in a statement that two independent reviews have confirmed allegations brought by a whistleblower, Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez, chief of specialty care at the Phoenix VA.

"In case after case since 2014, Phoenix VA whistleblowers have exposed and helped to correct serious problems with veterans' care," OSC's Carolyn Lerner said in a statement.

"I thank Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez for his courage, and urge the VA to act quickly in implementing all recommendations to improve timely access to care for veterans in Phoenix."

But instead, true to form for the VA, Rodriguez is now the subject of retaliation, he told The Washington Post.

"This is straight out of the VA playbook on how to deal with whistleblowers," Rodriguez wrote. "This is a gross injustice and a gross violation of my civil rights."

The latest findings, according to the OSC, which distributed its findings to the White House and Congress on Tuesday:

  • The VA found that a veteran who died of cardiovascular disease did not receive a cardiology exam his VA physician ordered, which could have prevented his death.
  • During a week in October 2015, nearly 3,900 appointments were canceled. Of those, 59 should have been rescheduled and were not. Of those 59 patients, 12 may have experienced harm that could have been prevented without the delay in care.
  • On an average day, the Phoenix VA has 1,100 patients waiting longer than 30 days for appointments.
  • Patients wait an average of 75 days for psychotherapy appointments.
  • In another case, a veteran waited in excess of 300 days for vascular care.
  • Out of a sample of 30 inappropriately canceled chiropractic consults, 28 veterans did not receive requested chiropractic care.

This comes one week after outgoing VA Secretary Robert McDonald gave a glowing review of the agency in his exit memo.

President-elect Donald Trump has yet to name a nominee willing to inherit the beleaguered agency.

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The Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix, for nearly three years a poster child for negligent care of its military veterans, continues to be plagued by long waits in administering medical care, a watchdog said Tuesday.
Phoenix, Veterans Affairs
351
2017-59-11
Wednesday, 11 Jan 2017 08:59 AM
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