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VA audit: Augusta needs 'further review'

Monday, June 9, 2014 7:30 PM
Last updated 8:53 PM
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The Charlie Norwood Veteran Affairs Medical Center is one of 112 VA facilities nationwide that require “further review” after a federal audit released Monday found 134 patients who have enrolled at the Augusta hospital in the past 10 years have never had appointments.

Overall, 15 percent of the 731 hospitals and outpatient clinics visited in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Access Audit need additional inspection based on answers provided by front-line staff to questions related to scheduling and management practices, according to the audit.

Ten of the sites are located in the VA’s Southeast Network. That includes the Augusta VA, which auditors visited May 14 to find three patients still waiting for initial medical appointments 90 days or more after requesting them, the report stated.

No specific details were provided on further review. Hospital spokesman Pete Scovill did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

“It is our duty and privilege to provide veterans the care they have earned through their service and sacrifice,” Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said in releasing the audit’s findings. “As the President has said, as Secretary Shinseki said, and as I stated plainly last week, we must work together to fix the unacceptable, systemic problems in accessing VA healthcare.”

Delays in care are not new to the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

Between 2011 and 2012, three cancer patients died after 4,580 veterans had diagnostic, screening and surveillance endoscopies delayed because of management failing to schedule primary-care referrals in the hospital’s gastrointestinal program.

The latest audit shows the Augusta VA has 39,116 non-surgical appointments in its system and that 98 percent, or 38,313, are scheduled within the next 30 days. Of those scheduled longer than a month, 531 are for 31 to 60 days; 120 are for 61 to 90 days; 66 are for 91 to 120 days; and 86 are for beyond 120 days.

The audit stated the agency’s “complicated” appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks and front-line supervisors, and that a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was “simply not attainable” given the ongoing challenge to accommodate growing health care demands among veterans. The VA has since abandoned that goal.

The audit says 13 percent of VA schedulers reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter and that at least one instance of such practices was identified in 76 percent of VA facilities.

Full details made public within the VA follow Gibson’s commitment last week in Phoenix, Ariz. and San Antonio, Texas to provide timely access to quality healthcare veterans have earned and deserved.

As of Monday, Gibson said the VA has contacted 50,000 veterans nationwide to get them off of wait lists and into clinics and will continue to reach out until all veterans receive the care they’ve earned.

“I’ll repeat – this data shows the extent of the systemic problems we face, problems that demand immediate actions,” Gibson said.

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Riverman1
79456
Points
Riverman1 06/09/14 - 09:08 pm
5
0
John Barrow's Granddad

Interesting that John Barrow just jumped on our local VA hospital. I'll guess something will come out about the radiology department next. What a pathetic band wagon hopper he is.

Combat Doc
21
Points
Combat Doc 06/09/14 - 10:20 pm
4
0
Holy cow

This is news. I was sure anyone who uses CNVAMC could have guessed this "revelation".

thauch12
6138
Points
thauch12 06/09/14 - 10:53 pm
3
2
Slander?

"three cancer patients died after 4,580 veterans had diagnostic, screening and surveillance endoscopies delayed because of management failing to schedule primary-care referrals in the hospital’s gastrointestinal program"

The author of this article, nor anyone except God almighty, cannot prove this assertion. Cancer is not something that can be treated with 100% certainty no matter when it is found. There is nothing to say these people could have died from it even if the endoscopies had been performed. To say they died "because" of a delayed exploratory diagnostic procedure (NOT a therapeutic measure) is at best factually untrue, and at worse slander.

northeastbeast
23
Points
northeastbeast 06/10/14 - 03:03 am
4
0
Alot More Problems Than Appointments

The Dowtown Charlie Norwood hospital has alot more problems than making appointments. From a understaffed nursing staff to having to use student doctors from GRU. The list can on and on. Thats why the smart move for the federal goverment would be to close the va and give vets id cards where they can pick their doctors and hospitals. It is to broken to fix. The best and cheapest fix would be to close it.

nocnoc
38524
Points
nocnoc 06/10/14 - 07:18 am
0
0
Different than we were told by the Augusta VA last week ?

Wasn't there an article last week that said the problems with the VA did not involve the Augusta VA?

Isn't it time to get NEWSPEAK Politics out of the VA?

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 06/10/14 - 09:48 am
3
1
As a victim

As a victim of VA malpractice and as the son of a highly decorated veteran who was killed by the VA, (my father was given conflicting medications by the VA and died as a result) I would hazard a guess that there are MANY more problems within the VA system that we will NEVER hear or know about. In my experience, the VA and its employees will lie, cover up and attempt to discount veterans' complaints at every turn.

GuyGene
1218
Points
GuyGene 06/10/14 - 10:15 am
3
0
Navy Gary...

I think unfortunately, you're right.

As for giving vets a card, voucher for regular doctors and hospitals, we already have a card for the VA. Seems to me all VA needs to do is give the okay for us to just go where we need to using our current VA cards. I'm service connected disabled combat Vietnam vet three hours from nearest VA hospital. I see me daid on the road trying to reach my nearest VA hospital.

skeptical
84
Points
skeptical 06/10/14 - 11:11 am
1
0
Sweet son
9710
Points
Sweet son 06/10/14 - 12:52 pm
1
0
Maybe even worse than the lack of medical care is the fact

that the Augusta VA's powers that be wouldn't even let a group from the Alleluia Community perform Christmas carols last Christmas. And it's not about the religious aspect of denying this request but the denial of a good community trying to actually do a good thing for the Veterans. Absolutely unbelievable!!!

myfather15
49690
Points
myfather15 06/10/14 - 01:58 pm
2
1
thauch

A little reading comprehension will do you good!!

The article doesn't say they died BECAUSE of the delays, they are saying the delays were BECAUSE of management failing to schedule primary-care referrals.

Nowhere in the article does it say their deaths were because of the delays. But, if three people did die WHILE those delays were going on, the article is factually accurate!!

thauch12
6138
Points
thauch12 06/10/14 - 03:50 pm
1
1
Comprehend this.

Indeed, a little reading comprehension WILL do you good.

In fact to aid that end, let's simplify the statement for you:
"three cancer patients died after 4,580 veterans had diagnostic, screening and surveillance endoscopies delayed."

What does this say? It says that 3 cancer patients died "after" endoscopies were delayed. As such, there implies a linkage (I would say cause/effect, but it's not worth the argument) between a patient developing cancer, a patient dying from said cancer, and a delay in a procedure that would not have cured said cancer. In fact, lack of an endoscopy would not prevent an oncologist from treating the cancer at all.

Furthermore, I'm willing to bet of that group of 4580 veterans, more than 3 of them died (including from things other than cancer). The fact that they died does not mean that the article is "factually accurate" in linking their deaths to these delays in exploratory procedures.

There's some reading comprehension for you...

myfather15
49690
Points
myfather15 06/11/14 - 06:05 am
0
1
Wow!!

"Between 2011 and 2012, three cancer patients died after 4,580 veterans had diagnostic, screening and surveillance endoscopies delayed because of management failing to schedule primary-care referrals in the hospital’s gastrointestinal program."

So, now you expect US to read into what YOU believe this implies!! So, only THREE persons died out of 4,580 and you think they're implying they died BECAUSE of the delays?? And we are suppose to comprehend YOUR opinion of what they're implying?

No thanks; I'll actually read it, how it reads. That the DELAYS were because of management failures, not the deaths!!

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