Steps VA Has Taken To Address Scandal

The following article was submitted by Dave Keukelaar:

Steps VA has taken to address patient-care scandal


The Associated Press

Published: June 9, 2014


WASHINGTON — Some steps the Department of Veterans Affairs has taken to address a scandal over long patient waits for care and phony records hiding delays at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide:

May 30: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns, he and agency officials announce that:

Top level officials at the agency will not receive performance bonuses this year;
Employees’ performance in meeting a 14-day wait-time target for patients’ appointments will no longer be considered in employee job reviews. The agency found its strapped clinics were not always able to meet that goal and it was pressuring some workers to falsify wait-time information;
Steps will be taken against officials involved in falsifying wait-time data and senior officials at facilities where audits identify problems;
Senior officials will be removed from the VA’s Phoenix facility, a focus of the department’s problems.
June 4: Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson says agency is contacting 1,700 veterans the department’s inspector general found were omitted from the Phoenix center’s official waiting list and is starting to schedule appointments for them.

June 5: Gibson says retaliation won’t be tolerated against agency workers who have complained about covering up of scheduling delays. Gibson makes that vow after independent federal Office of Special Counsel says it is investigating possible retribution against 37 VA employees.

June 9: Gibson announces additional steps including:

Immediate hiring freeze at the VA’s Veterans Health Administration office in Wshington, D.C., and 21 regional Health Administration offices around the U.S.;
Hiring extra clinical and patient-support staffers for the most overburdened VA facilities;
Using temporary staffing measures, including mobile medical units, to accelerate care for veterans on wait lists;
Letting more veterans get more medical care from some local health-care providers;
Collecting data from patients and those making initial appointments to assess their satisfaction with care;
Starting an external audit of VA’s system for scheduling appointment.