AZ vets hope new secretary of Veterans Affairs can fix problems at Phoenix VA

Phoenix VA Medical Center (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

U.S. Army and Air Force veteran Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez is the latest whistleblower to come forward and expose serious problems at the Phoenix VA Medical Center.

Nearly three years after the facility was at the center of a nationwide scandal that brought to light widespread delays in patient care, not much has changed, according to Rodriguez.

"Change has not come at all," Rodriguez said. "It was promised, but never delivered, so we have no mission accomplished. We don't even have it being initiated. My hope is that it actually moves forward and there is traction and vets become a priority."

As a result of information Rodriguez provided while working at the Phoenix VA, investigators found:

* A veteran died of cardiovascular disease after not receiving a cardiology exam that his doctor ordered.

* During one week, nearly 3,900 appointments were canceled.

* On an average day, 1,100 patients waited longer than 30 days for appointments.

[Special section: VA hospital troubles]

On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump announced the appointment of a new secretary of Veterans Affairs.

David Shulkin is currently the undersecretary for health at the VA.

So far, Shulkin's nomination is getting mixed reviews in the veterans community.

Original VA whistleblower Dr. Sam Foote is hopeful that the new VA secretary will stop with the status quo and remove ineffective managers, while paving the way for more veterans to receive private care from other facilities.

"There's a lot of good docs at the Phoenix VA who do a lot of good work," Foote said. "But they are still overwhelmed. The easiest way to cure that is to let those patients that are not getting served vote with their feet and go to the outside sector."

In some cases, veterans are currently allowed to go outside the VA to other health care facilities, but Trump said he wants to see that expand to other hospitals like the Mayo Clinic.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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