Friday, May 02, 2014

More News from Phoenix VAMC

More news from Phoenix, courtesy of the good folks at the National Association for Uniformed Services from their NAUS Weekly Update.

Here are their two items on the horrific news from the VAMC in Phoenix:
"Second Phoenix VA Doctor Blows Whistle Late on Sunday night, VA Dr. Katherine Mitchell said she received a phone call from a fellow employee at the Phoenix VA hospital who needed advice on how to handle a sensitive situation.

Her co-worker explained that records were being destroyed that very moment in the Phoenix VA Health Care System.  But he had preserved evidence of what he believed were falsified wait times for medical care.  The purported "secret lists," along with accusations that up to 40 Arizona veterans died awaiting care, are the subject of national controversy and investigations by Congress and the VA Inspector General.

Mitchell was a confidante with experience — nearly 16 years at the VA hospital, first as a nurse who became supervising physician in the emergency room, then as medical director over a transition program for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

She said her colleague explained that the documents were being destroyed that evening. Aware that the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs had issued orders for the VA to preserve documents at the medical center in Phoenix, the two agreed to protect evidence.

Mitchell said she went to the medical center and walked her co-worker to VA police headquarters, where they asked officers to secure the documentation.  Police declined, Mitchell said, but suggested they find a safe place to conceal the materials inside the hospital.
To read the entire article from the Arizona Republic newspaper click here.  The allegations in the article are shocking to say the least.  The VA will have a lot of explaining to do if in fact the allegations are proven. 

VA Secretary Places Top Staff at Phoenix VA Medical Center on Administrative Leave Growing intensity of allegations that up to 40 patients died because of delays in medical care at a Phoenix VA hospital, forced Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Thursday to place the hospital director and two other officials on administrative leave pending a full investigation.

Shinseki took the steps a day after his top health official told Congress there was no evidence so far that patients died awaiting care at the Phoenix facility, nor that records of delayed appointments were falsified.

Shinseki issued a statement late Thursday saying that "we take these allegations very seriously" and that pending results from a VA inspector general investigation, Phoenix hospital Director Sharon Helman, Associate Director Lance Robinson and a third hospital employee were being placed on administrative leave.

"We believe it is important to allow an independent, objective review to proceed. These allegations, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and if the inspector general's investigation substantiates these claims, swift and appropriate action will be taken," Shinseki said.

Dr. Robert Petzel, VA undersecretary for health, told the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Wednesday that an initial review had found no basis for the allegations."

Why are we not surprised that they had "found no basis for the allegations?"


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