Last month, a report was released that showed a VA hospital in Phoenix purposely created a secret waiting list to cover up treatment delays at their facility. A former director said up to 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment. Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered a mandatory nationwide audit at all VA hospitals; this includes the facility in Iron Mountain.
â??They performed interviews with our staff,â?? said Medical Center Director, Jim Rice. â??They looked at our policies and met with providers to see what their perception was. Then they left; it was a quick visit. They were here for about eight hours.â??
The audit's purpose was to find any discrepancies with the facilityâ??s scheduling practices. That data will be aggregated along with all other hospital data to further the national investigation. However, administrators at the VA in Iron Mountain said they're proactive in their approach to wait times.
â??We manage wait times on a daily basis every day at the morning report; we have an electronic Dashboard. We look at the patients who may be waiting and we try to manage based on clinic availability or provider issues,â?? Rice said.
Chuck Lantz is the Dickinson County veterans advocate in the Office of Veterans Affairs and said as a veteran, the news about the scandal was disheartening.
â??It was a little sickening that it did come about when I heard about it, as a veteran. As a veteran advocate you have to step back and wait and look at the big picture; what really transpired, what really happened. Whoever is accountable needs to be held accountable, but you have to figure out at what level the problem arose,â?? Lantz said.
Lantz said he's seen a lot of veterans coming in concerned about what they're seeing on the news.
â??Veterans are scared of what's going to happen with their care,â?? Lantz said.
So far no results from the audit in Iron Mountain have been released. The White House said President Obama is urging Secretary Shinseki to â??continue to fix these things until they're functioning the way that our veterans believe they should.â??