This is not the first time that I have addressed issues at the Veteran’s Administration, and I shall keep writing about it until our veterans have decent medical care. We have just celebrated Independence Day and we owe our independence and our freedom to the men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect us. These heroes are our veterans.
Under the former administration of Barack Obama, veterans seeking healthcare through the VA were frequently neglected. Instead of meeting the needs of the veterans the Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio, was more involved with promoting transgender programs. They opened a clinic specializing in the care of transgender patients where some received taxpayer-funded sex change hormones. Unfortunately, the other ONE HUNDRED ELEVEN THOUSAND veterans in the hospital’s care were not provided with timely and safe treatments. The Inspector General of the VA found that clinical managers did not properly manage the professional competency for those providing care. Environmental cleanliness and patient safety were also not adequate.
At this hospital they found that the percentage of patients who had to use the emergency room instead of going to primary care was twice as great as in the overall VA system. They also found corruption and criminal behavior at this VA center.
Unfortunately, there are many reports from across the country from a variety of VA hospitals, of veterans being neglected, mistreated, or abused. It is definitely a systemic issue. A new Veteran’s Administration’s Inspector General’s report revealed that in a Louisiana VA hospital almost ONE HUNDRED patients died, waiting for care, and ONE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND consults were deliberately deleted.
In Phoenix, shoddy care still exists even three years later. TWO HUNDRED FIFTEEN vets died while waiting for appointments with specialists. In 76 cases the appointment records of these vets who died, were changed to “cancelled by patient”. In October of 2015 THIRTY-NINE HUNDRED appointments were clerically cancelled. Patients needing psycho-therapy waited an average of 75 days to be seen.
There seems to be a climate of corruption, arrogance, and just not-giving-a-damn about the patients. Instead of disciplining and/or firing some of these horrible employees, the VA paid $100.4 million in performance bonuses in 2014. These were even given to those under investigation! The Inspector General also found that they were consistently lied-to by many of the managers.
The horror stories occurred during the eight-year reign of Obama, who did nothing to help our veterans. Now, President Trump has signed into law a Veteran’s Administration Reform Bill that will facilitate the firing of bad employees and protect whistle-blowers. There is also a new Secretary at the VA and his name is David Shulkin, who is the former CEO of Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.
The Last Word: The Veteran’s Administration serves almost five million veterans, and has a budget of almost 800 million dollars. If the agency climate can be changed to one where poor quality care, bad employees, and long wait periods are not tolerated, then maybe we can begin to see a new VA where the men and woman who gave their all for us will receive the very best medical care that we can give to them.