Problems are only getting worse at the Veterans Affairs and for that matter embattled Veterans Affairs Director Eric Shinseki.
Yesterday it was released to various news affiliates that an employee at the VA hospital in Wyoming, and at a community-based outpatient clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, which is part of the Wyoming VA System, instructed workers how to game the appointment system in order to appear veterans were being seen in the allotted VA 14 day time frame.
This was all through an internal investigation in December 2013, but only recently released this week. The VA did not take any formal disciplinary action until Shinseki learned of the email on Friday.
The employee, David Newman, a register nurse at the VA Medical Center describes to workers how to game the system.
In the email Newman wrote, “A patient comes to me and says I want to see Dr. Smith. I pull the patient up in appointment management and see Dr. Smith appointments. I see that Dr. Smith’s first open visit is August 15th. So I say Dr. Smith’s first available appointment is August 15th, when would you like to be seen? Patient says August 15th. I then back out of that screen, and go back in with desired date of August 15 and book the patient. If the patient says any time after August 15th, and I see that there are visits every day after August 15th, I can still put the 15th as the desired date, and just make sure that whatever appointment I book is no later than 14 days later, or August 29th.”
Newman continues, “Yes, it is gaming the system a bit,” the email reads. “But you have to know the rules of the game you are playing, and when we exceed the 14-day measure, the front office gets very upset.”
Is this a systemic culture at the VA and how far does this go in the VA hierarchy?
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made the following statement in response to an inquiry by CBS News:
“On May 9, upon learning of an email sent by a Cheyenne VA Medical Center employee, I immediately requested the independent VA Office of Inspector General conduct a thorough investigation of the actions outlined in the employee’s email. I have also directed that the employee be removed immediately from patient care responsibilities and placed on administrative leave. VA takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously. If true, the behavior outlined in the email is unacceptable.”
Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is asking the question, if the VA knew about this in December why is it only taking action now?
This is a question Shinseki has to be asked and be held accountable for. The first question did he know of the report from the VA’s Office of the Medical Inspector, and released on December 23rd 2013? If he did then why did he not act? If he did not see the report then it would seem he has lost control of the VA.
Veterans need answers, but unfortunately governmental officials never seem to be held accountable for anything.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]