VA National Scandal Reports ReleasedPosted: Updated:
Veterans in seven states are waiting way too long for care, caught up in the paperwork shuffle that was first exposed right here in Phoenix. The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General has found evidence that staffers are manipulating wait times to make it appear vets are getting timely care. The national report confirms that problems first exposed at the Phoenix VA in 2014 have not gotten much better.
The new head of the Phoenix VA, Deborah Amdur, came from another VA facility spotlighted with wait time issues and more. The White River Junction VA is one of the seven investigated by The Office of the Attorney General. It turns out VA leadership transferred Amdur from that VA in Vermont to this one here in Phoenix. It was a move that has has some concerned.
"Director Amdur is going to keep the status quo in place that nothing is going to change there," said Ted Stachulski.
He was the subject of a bombshell VA investigation in Vermont, where he says Amdur refused to give him key information about his treatment and lied to a senator about it.
"Her attitude was so what, you got your records," he said.
It turns out, while she oversaw the facility in Vermont, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General uncovered shocking claims that schedulers would appear on the "naughty list" if they didn't manipulate the numbers and that cancer was misdiagnosed in at least 10 patients.
The report was completed in December of 2014, well before Director Amdur was recently transferred to the Phoenix VA, which is ground zero of the wait list manipulation controversy and according to many insiders who've come forward to me, nothing has changed.
[Special section: VA hospital troubles]
"We're looking for Director Amdur to take the lead on this. She's been silent. You have requested dozens of times to meet with her, why is she not coming out front of this issue? Why can Phoenix not be different than the rest of the country?" said prime whistleblower Brandon Coleman.
Amdur also canceled a town hall meet-and-greet with Arizona Senator John McCain last week.
"One of the things that public officials had better understand is they ought to talk to the people and they ought to talk to the media," he said.
Amdur released a statement in response to the report:
"While I was director at the White River Junction VA, we were working on reorganizing our scheduling processes to centralize all appointment scheduling activities when internal questions from staff were raised about our scheduling practices. I immediately asked the VA’s Inspector General to come in and investigate. As information from the investigation was revealed, we made changes immediately. I’ve always believed that taking immediate action is the right thing to do, and that helped us immensely when I was at WRJ. I carry that same belief with me at the Phoenix VA and encourage staff to come forward to leadership when they find things they think might not be correct. I’ve rewarded staff publicly for identifying improvement opportunities and work to ensure that all staff are aware and trained when a process is improved."
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