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VA Scandal -- Sepulveda Facility in North Hills Flagged for Further Investigatio PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 12 June 2014 01:35

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Mayor Eric Garcetti said it is "unacceptable'' that veterans wait up to 56 days for their first appointment through the VA's Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

"It's unacceptable to have those sorts of wait times,'' Garcetti said. The 56-day local wait time for new patients was revealed in an audit of more than 731 VA hospitals by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which showed more than 57,000 patients wait for their first appointment within the VA's healthcare system for 90 days or more. The VA had a 14- day goal for those appointments.

Donna M. Beiter, director of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, said in a previous statement that the health care system strives to provide the best care possible to veterans, and "we welcome the opportunity for an external set of eyes to look at our scheduling operation and offer recommendations for improvement.''

The nationwide audit found that the agency's appointment process caused confusion for schedulers, and that the 14-day goal was unattainable because of growing demand for healthcare and due to planning problems. The audit also found that VA schedulers across the country reported being pressured to alter appointment information to downplay the patient backlog.

In response to the audit's findings, Acting U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson eliminated the 14-day scheduling goal, implemented a hiring freeze and ordered an independent, external audit of the agency's scheduling practices.

VA Sepulveda Is Flagged

The Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center near North Hills, was one of a series of VA healthcare facilities across the country flagged in the audit for "further review and investigation.'' The report did not give specific reasons for the follow-up probes at any of the flagged facilities.

Garcetti, who was asked about the audit results at a news conference where he unveiled a program that seeks to employ veterans, said there is already plenty of blame being thrown around.

"There's been a failure of leadership and a failure of resources,'' Garcetti said. "Who gets punished when that happens? Veterans.''

The mayor, who is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, said it is time for the Department of Veterans Affairs to come into the 21st century.