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Professor H

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VA scheduler in Texas claims waits for appointments were covered up

San Antonio (CNN) -- Clerks scheduling medical appointments for veterans were "cooking the books" at their bosses' behest to hide the fact some had to wait weeks, if not months, for appointments, a VA scheduler in San Antonio said Thursday.

The Office of Inspector General confirms to CNN that it has staff investigators on the ground in San Antonio looking into the allegations.

The allegations surrounding this Texas VA hospital comes as the federal department fends off claims of potentially deadly delays at other facilities, including claims of a secret wait list in Phoenix that was first reported by CNN.

Phoenix VA officials deny secret wait list; doctors say they're lying

The VA's official policy is that all patients should be able to see a doctor, dentist or some other medical professional within 14 days of their requested/preferred date. Any wait longer than two weeks is supposed to documented.

Yet Brian Turner, a Veterans Affairs scheduling clerk based in San Antonio, said Thursday that some who called to make appointments at his facility did end up waiting longer, yet such delays were never reported.
 





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For example, he said, they might be told the next available appointment wasn't for several months. It would be scheduled for then, but marked in official files as if the patient had put off their appointment until then by choice.

"What we've been instructed was that -- they are not saying fudged, there is no secret wait list -- but what they've done is come out and just say 'zero out that date,' " Turner said. The "zero," in this case, suggests the patient didn't have to wait at all.

"It could be three months and look like no days (wait)," he added. "It looked like they had scheduled the appointment and got exactly what they wanted."

The Veterans Affairs public affairs office said that Turner's allegation has been looked into, without any finding of wrongdoing.

"Based on our internal fact-finding conducted April 25-28, we found the claims by this employee were not substantiated," the VA statement said. However, the Office of Inspector General says it is conducting its own investigation. Turner tells CNN he has already been interviewed by OIG staff.

The claim comes amid strong public pressure on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its leader, Eric Shinseki, after CNN reporting unveiled e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital.

Shinseki has ordered a "face-to-face audit" at VA clinics, a department spokesman said on Thursday. Earlier the same day, a House committee voted to subpoena Shinseki in the wake of such accusations that his department is responsible for deadly delays in health care.

Shinseki orders 'face-to-face audit' at clinics

Turner told CNN that he's become a witness in an investigation by the VA inspector general's office focusing on delayed care, alleged falsification of records and possible medical harm to veterans at the San Antonio facility. Turner, a former Army soldier himself who still works at the VA, said he has asked to be protected under federal whistle-blower laws.

As to the VA's earlier fact-finding efforts, Turner said that no one asked him about his allegations. In fact, he said, when he began expressing his concerns to other staff members, he was called in and told not to e-mail another person.

"They shut me up the very next day," Turner said.
http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/08/us/va-san-antonio-allegation/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
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Marion Berry

But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.
Nancy Pelosi

nails

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Asking for the top leaders of the VA to resign because of a few bad mid-managers is like asking for Ford's Alan Mulally to resign because someone had a bad experience at Brondes Ford in Toledo. 

Granted, things were done that shouldn't have happened, and there may have even been localized cover-ups attempted, but congress better look into the mirror before they cut off the head because of a broken leg.  That kind of justice should bite them in the asss real quickly.

I have personal experience with Gen. Shinseki. He was my CO when I went to the field in Viet Nam. I was in a couple of serious firefights with him at our side. I was with him when he stepped on a mine and blew off half his foot. I helped carry him out of that minefield.

Most people experiencing an injury like that would leave the military, take their disability checks, and go on with their life.  Capt. Shinseki stayed in the Army, continued serving his country, and became a 4 star General. He was then named Army Chief of Staff. 
He is a man of integrity.

Things at the VA may need attention, but what large organization doesn't have some problems.
I have only heard of quality care at VA facilities.


« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 08:08:37 AM by nails »
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The Fuzz

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Kudos to you nails!
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nails

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Here is a copied response from another board that pretty much says what my thoughts are. It is in reference to someone saying the Gen. needs to be removed from position because he isn't all excited and ready to fire everyone.

"Mr. Milibank is basing his call for General Shinseki to resign mostly on the man's stoic demeanor. Just because he is not running around with his hair on fire, does not mean that he is not concerned and working to find out what may have been done wrong.

Take a look at some old video clips of the General's testimony before the Iraq invasion, when he said that it would take hundreds of thousands of US Troops to pacify Iraq. He had the very same demeanor then. He does not show emotion, some of which probably stems from his long years in the military, and perhaps some of it from his ethnic cultural norms.

You need to calm down more than the General needs to become hysterical. Give the man time to determine what went wrong, and if it was on a large scale or not. That is all he asked for yesterday. Shame on you for joining the lynch mob just because he did not put on an emotional display for you.
"

That is also pretty much as how I remember him back in 1970.

By the way, the reference to the Iraq dialog, pertained to Shinseki, as Army Chief of Staff, talking to Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld argued that it would only take a few thousand troops to control Iraq.
Guess who turned out to be right in that argument.

Take a look at this article .
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/12/washington/12shinseki.html?_r=0


« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 09:34:21 AM by nails »
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BigRedDog

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  • The BRD in her 'younger' days... 2007.

Asking for the top leaders of the VA to resign because of a few bad mid-managers is like asking for Ford's Alan Mulally to resign because someone had a bad experience at Brondes Ford in Toledo. 

Granted, things were done that shouldn't have happened, and there may have even been localized cover-ups attempted, but congress better look into the mirror before they cut off the head because of a broken leg.  That kind of justice should bite them in the asss real quickly.

I have personal experience with Gen. Shinseki. He was my CO when I went to the field in Viet Nam. I was in a couple of serious firefights with him at our side. I was with him when he stepped on a mine and blew off half his foot. I helped carry him out of that minefield.

Most people experiencing an injury like that would leave the military, take their disability checks, and go on with their life.  Capt. Shinseki stayed in the Army, continued serving his country, and became a 4 star General. He was then named Army Chief of Staff. 
He is a man of integrity.

Things at the VA may need attention, but what large organization doesn't have some problems.
I have only heard of quality care at VA facilities.

Some people like to clean from the top down...  others from the bottom up.  I'm not directly involved in this particular issue although I know several veterans that do get services from the VA.  I'm not aware of any that have said their health has been imperiled by any lack of service but I will be paying closer attention.  I see someone near the top did resign yesterday although a previous article had said he was already planning to retire this year anyway. 

I appreciate your post about your personal experiences with the general too nails.  I was also able to interact with several field grade officers during my brief military 'service'...   they're all human and they bleed (and cry) just like anyone else!  I will keep your evaluation of him in mind as I read any other articles I see about the topic.
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BigRedDog

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  • The BRD in her 'younger' days... 2007.
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John Kopke

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If folks at VA hospitals were fudging numbers to show lower average wait times then this
is criminal.
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John Kopke

blue2

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Hard for me to understand what happened as there aren't many facts.  It would be easy to see how one unit could be doing something criminal because it couldn't keep up.  But it seem like it's more than just one "rouge agent in Cincinnati" which makes me suspicious to the fact that it's more general in nature.
I seem to have faith in the ex General that runs the agency.
It could be managers of these units get together regularly and discuss how they manage their units.  We do know how the government agencies like to party.
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eriemermaid

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Anyone remember a few years ago when they were going to shut a VA hospital down because of all the mold?  Was that Colorado or Virginia?

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nails

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SidecarFlip

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+1, Walter Reed.
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Professor H

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I agree and appreciate the history/story (from nails) - on the general.   I have not met or heard of too many in the Military that advanced as far as he did by doing anything unethical - or skewing data, facts of figures to make themselves look better.

However since the delays and the secret schedule happened at more than one facility - is was likely that the top levels had some collusion on the issue.

It's a shame when our Veterans are subject to a history of bad service from the VA system.
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Marion Berry

But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.
Nancy Pelosi

The Fuzz

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I have not met or heard of too many in the Military that advanced as far as he did by doing anything unethical - or skewing data, facts of figures to make themselves look better.

Westmoreland comes to mind, probably an exception I guess, but he was a twisted data skewing SOB that cost thousands of young men their lives.
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nails

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I know I may be a little bias toward Shinseki, but I'm trying to be objective about this. My history with him only lasted a few months, and that was ??... 44 yrs ago.  It's not like we're close friends.

When these types of issues/problems come out with large companies, as much as we would like to blame the figurehead leader, in most cases I really don't believe the top of the pyramid has knowledge of the problems. Think about it. If a serious problem develops, there are multiple levels of management between the street and the top. Each one of these levels will do their best to rectify or hide the problem from the next level. And when that level is penetrated, another round of hiding is implemented. And so on all the way up. They sure don't want the CEO or President of the comany to find out if he doesn't have to.

I'm sure there are problems within the VA system. Not just one facility, but throughout the system. Some problems are more serious than others, and I'm also confident there are disgruntled employees who delight in causing problems for management. When these issues are exposed, upper management needs to analyze the situation to separate the true issues from the exaggerated claims. Then take appropriate action.

I doubt there is a hospital in America that doesn't have issues that
could stand up to the scrutiny of a "60 Minutes" producer looking for a story.
The media CAN make mountains out of molehills.

« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 07:10:20 PM by nails »
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