VA insider provides startling statistics on canceled surgeries

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Department of Veterans Affairs employee is speaking out about the recent cancellations of surgeries because of a ventilation problem.

[READ MORE: Phoenix VA Health Care postpones surgeries for the rest of the week]

"Management at the Phoenix VA could care less," said the employee who asked to remain anonymous.

According to documents he provided, the numbers of canceled surgeries rose to more than 100. But a spokeswoman with the VA disputes that claim. Either way, patients that require critical surgeries now have to wait for something the VA employee says was ignored by management months ago.

"They would clean it up and it would continue to show up in that operating room and then they finally determined, 'wow maybe we should check the ventilation system,'" he said.

The employee is talking about the accumulation of dust in a place where lives are supposed to be saved. He showed us the thickness and says two inches of dust collects everyday on critical care equipment and that conditions have been unsanitary for much longer. Many of the patients are over the age of 65 and he says and may not have months to wait. 

According to the VA, the affected patients are being contacted individually and some offered care through a community partner. "That's the same old song," said the employee, "and I'm sure if they did manage to contact them it takes normally weeks if not months to get their health records out in the community."

Army veteran John Fair says he knows how long it can take all too well. "It's very frustrating," said Fair. It took six weeks he says to have his cancer misdiagnosed at the VA three times. He eventually went to another hospital to have surgery. He had a follow up today and heard about the cancellations. "It could take up to a month before they're seen and they could die depending on how serious the issue is," Fair said. 

"A lot of these are veterans that are elderly that have no one to fight for them and that's why people like me have had enough," said the employee. The VA hopes to resume surgeries by next week.  

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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