Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

State News

June 10, 2014

Federal audit probes problems at VA hospitals

INDIANAPOLIS — The government released official wait times on Monday at every VA hospital around the country, including the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

I-Team 8’s investigations in the past have shown long wait times and other issues there.

The numbers scheduled released Monday followed accusations of patient schedule fixing. The same issues nationwide are what I-Team 8 has looked at in Indianapolis – long wait times and now the American Legion’s involvement.

It started at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said last week that a review there confirmed 18 veterans kept off official Veterans Affairs waiting lists died waiting for an appointment.

A whistleblower first brought this to light, launching the national scandal.

In May, I-Team 8 reported the Indianapolis American Legion is part of a team reviewing the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

While that happens, local veterans met at an American Legion Hall to tell their stories, dealing with veterans’ affairs and Roudebush in particular.

Once the problems in Phoenix were made known, the Department of Veterans Affairs conducted a nationwide audit of every medical center in the country.

An interim report found inappropriate scheduling is systemic throughout the veteran’s health administration.

On Monday, the final results were revealed and exactly how far the problems extend.

An audit of VA hospitals and clinics nationwide has found that nearly 275 Indiana patients are still waiting for initial appointments at facilities in Indianapolis and northern Indiana 90 days or more after requesting them.

The audit also found that more than 230 others in Indiana who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never received appointments.

Auditors found that the agency’s complicated appointment process created confusion among schedulers and supervisors and that a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable. The VA has abandoned that goal.

Nationally, more than 57,000 patients are still waiting for initial medical appointments after 90 days, and an additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system in the last decade have never been seen.

WISH-TV, the news gathering partner for the Daily News, contributed to this story.

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