by Freddy Groves
— Allegations of wait-time manipulation at the Phoenix VA Health Care System surfaced two years ago, and more allegations followed. Since then, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General has conducted more that 70 investigations. It’s now starting to roll out the results of those inquiries. Here are few highlights: Iowa — It was alleged that “secret waiting lists” were destroyed before the inspection. One list had been created by a clinical psychologist to track how long it took for his patients to get appointments. He was told to delete it, even though it helped him help his patients. Louisiana — A list similar to the one in Iowa had been created by staff to keep patients from “falling through the cracks” in the system, and had nothing to do with scheduling. New staff was to be hired, and veterans couldn’t be assigned appointments with a specific doctor yet … hence the list to keep track of them. Minnesota — Two former employees alleged that they’d been instructed to manipulate appointment dates or cancel patient appointments. Both had appeared on television shows making allegations, which were not substantiated in 26 subsequent interviews of employees. Illinois — One employee admitted to changing desired appointment dates and next available dates to create a zero-wait appearance because she thought that’s what she was supposed to do in order to avoid repercussions by management. Florida — A former employee alleged that clerks were manipulating scheduling data, but it appears they just didn’t understand the difference between a desired appointment date and an available one. Intentional manipulation isn’t what comes through in an initial reading of these reports. It seems more a matter of confusion. To read the full reports and keep track of new ones as they come in, check www.va.gov/oig. (c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.