Two VA employees in NC on leave over ‘inappropriate scheduling’

The VA Medical Center in Durham (Credit: WTVD-TV)

The VA Medical Center in Durham (Credit: WTVD-TV)

DURHAM, N.C. — Two Durham VA Medical Center employees have been put on administrative leave because of “inappropriate scheduling practices,” the Department of Veteran Affairs said in a Monday statement.

The facility in Durham, North Carolina, is at least the fourth hospital accused of manipulating health care appointments.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered an audit at all VA clinics, following months of CNN exclusive reporting about U.S. veterans who have died while they waited for treatment at VA hospitals.

“In preparation for this audit, VHA (Veterans Health Administration) Central Office learned on May 12 that a Durham VA Medical Center employee indicated that some employees at that facility may have engaged in inappropriate scheduling practices at some point between 2009 and 2012,” the Monday statement read.

“VA takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously. If the allegations are true, the inappropriate behavior is unacceptable and employees will be held accountable.”

The latest allegation comes as the federal department defends itself against claims of potentially deadly delays at other facilities throughout the nation, including claims of a secret wait list in Phoenix, which was first reported by CNN.

A VA scheduler in San Antonio said clerks scheduling medical appointments for veterans were “cooking the books” at their bosses’ behest to hide the fact some had to wait weeks, if not months, for appointments.

Similarly, a scheduler at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, which is managed by a Wyoming clinic, said employees were told to manipulate the system.

The VA’s official policy is that all patients should be able to see a doctor, dentist or some other medical professional within 14 days of their requested/preferred date. Any wait longer than two weeks is supposed to documented. But many veterans end up waiting longer, and the delays are never reported, veterans and their advocates say.

Shinseki has been subpoenaed by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

CNN has submitted numerous requests for an interview with Shinseki; the secretary has refused them all.

12 comments

  • news2me

    “The VA’s official policy is that all patients should be able to see a doctor, dentist or some other medical professional within 14 days of their requested/preferred date”

    2 weeks can be the difference between life and death of these people who serve our country..Totally unacceptable.

    They need immediate care unless it is for a regular check-up.

    I am so ashamed that we in America do not treat our Veterans as number one citiens…which they are..

      • Stephen

        bella07, no one claims that Veterans are better than anyone else. You are probably not familiar with earning something, but the idea is that Veterans serve our country to protect even the most ignorant people, such as yourself, in exchange for the promise to be taken care of medically. The United States government is notorious for not keeping their end of the deal. This is just one example of many.

      • FaithC

        bella07 – I agree with Stephen. These men and woman serve our country so people like you can be safe. How dare you say they are no better than anyone else.
        I will assume you have no family members who have served in our military, nor do you have any respect for the men and woman who serve our country. Shame on you.

      • Gary Nelson

        bella07, Please explain the rational behind your blatant statement. The VA system has nothing to do with you unless you are a veteran. It sounds to me as though you are one who expects the government to hand out everything you need while you sit on your arsh… Wake up and get a life Buttercup…The Veterans signed a blank check, up to and including their life for their country… What have you done, Buttercup???

  • James Rawlings

    I would the majority of these Vets that are not getting appointments on time are Vietnam Vets with affects of Agent Orange.Jim Rawlings

  • Robert Hadley

    VA has been going down since 2002, WW2 vets [ non service connected cut out] Really only fix is mandate all politicians and families use VA as health care providers..

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