Two weeks ago, Suzanne Chase, of Acton, Massachusetts, receives a letter from the local VA hospital saying an appointment can be made for her husband. She had attempted to move her husband to that facility in 2012, but waited four months and received no reply. Her husband, Doug Chase, died in August, 2012. She says the department should have known he was dead because she applied for funeral benefits, and the request was denied. A spokesperson for the VA Department says:
We regret any distress our actions caused to the veteran’s widow and family.
A report prepared by Rob Nabors, who President Obama assigned the task of assessing the situation at the agency, states:
It is clear that there are significant and chronic systemic failures that must be addressed by the leadership at VA.
Nabors and acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson met with Obama to discuss the findings in the report.
A nurse working at a VA facility in Albany, NY claims her supervisors turned on her when she reported mistreatment of patients and stolen drugs. After Val Riviello reported that doctors had restrained a patient for seven hours, violating a VA rule, she was punished. She said the restraints are for patients who are a threat to themselves and others, and they are supposed to come off when that is no longer the case.
That’s really kind of barbaric.
She is now working in an office cubicle and has been stripped of her nursing duties and supervisory role at the facility. Rivello is facing a 30-day suspension without pay.
Pauline DeWenter, a scheduling clerk for the VA in Phoenix, Arizona, reveals that files were altered to change the number of deaths of veterans who died while awaiting care. She also states that she was in charge of handling a “secret waiting list” containing the names of veterans who were waiting for care, some of which waited months for care or received no care at all. This is the first time DeWenter has spoken publicly about the Phoenix VA scandal.
“Deceased” notes on files were removed to make statistics look better, so veterans would not be counted as having died while waiting for care
A report sent to the White House by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) claims that two veterans went years without proper treatment. The report states that one veteran was in a facility for eight years before a complete psychiatric evaluation was ever performed. Another veteran had only one psychiatric note on his chart even though he had been an inpatient at a facility in Massachusetts for seven years. The agency is still investigating more than 50 whistleblower reports involving health and safety allegations at VA facilities nationwide.
Shinseki resigns his Cabinet post and accepts blame for troubles plaguing veterans hospitals, citing a systemic lack of integrity. President Obama accepts Shinseki’s resignation with “considerable regret”, saying:
We don’t have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem. Our vets deserve the best. They’ve earned it.
Before his resignation, Shinseki provides the president with a report outlining the problems surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs.