VA investigating Florida hospital wait lists

Jacksonville one of the most dangerous communities in the country for pedestrians
May 21, 2014
pool-300x199.jpg
It’s summer time – are our pools as safe as they should be?
May 27, 2014
surgery-300x207.jpg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An audit team sent to the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida, discovered a list of patients needing follow-up appointments that was kept on paper instead of in the VA’s electronic computer system.   The paper waiting list had the names of 219 patients.   As a result, the VA’s Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation and three members of the Gainesville VA’s supervisory staff have been placed on paid leave, pending the outcome of an investigation.  The latest allegation comes as the Department of Veterans Affairs defends itself against claims of potentially deadly delays at other facilities nationwide.  For six months, CNN has been reporting on delays in medical appointments suffered by veterans across the country and veterans who died or were seriously injured while waiting for appointments and care.The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days.

There have been numerous whistle-blowers from VA hospitals across the country who have described delays in care for veterans and also varying schemes by officials at those facilities to hide the delays — in some cases even falsify records or efforts to “cook the books.”

As the news of several employees at the Gainesville  facility being placed on paid leave, Florida Agency for Health Care Administration attempted to conduct an on-site review at the hospital Monday but was denied access.  The Gainesville Sun reports that Gov. Rick Scott called for the state agency to attempt revisiting the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville after the waiting list was found, according to an AHCA news release Tuesday.  AHCA previously tried in April to complete an onsite review of the Gainesville VA hospital as well as the Lake City VA Medical Center but was also denied access then, according to AHCA news releases.  Thomas Wisnieski, director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, said Tuesday that AHCA was denied access both times because the VA can’t allow the state agency to do that by law, considering the rules and requirements the VA must follow as a federal agency.

In light of the recent discovery of a handwritten waiting list of mental health patients at the Gainesville VA Medical Center, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration attempted to conduct an on-site review at the hospital Monday but was denied access.

Gov. Rick Scott called for the state agency to attempt revisiting the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville after the waiting list was found, according to an AHCA news release Tuesday.

AHCA previously tried in April to complete an onsite review of the Gainesville VA hospital as well as the Lake City VA Medical Center but was also denied access then, according to AHCA news releases.

Thomas Wisnieski, director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, said Tuesday that AHCA was denied access both times because the VA can’t allow the state agency to do that by law, considering the rules and requirements the VA must follow as a federal agency.

Three local mental health administrators were quickly placed on paid administrative leave after Department of Veterans Affairs officials learned about the paper waiting list, which included the names of 219 patients, during the VA officials’ visit to the Gainesville facility last week, according to Wisnieski.

The handwritten waiting list, which Wisnieski called a patient recall appointment list, included established patients in need of follow-up appointments.

Clerks weren’t able to schedule patient appointments more than 120 days out using the VA’s electronic scheduling system, although they should have been, and were writing them down on this list, which does not comply with proper protocol, Wisnieski said.

According to information that Wisnieski said the VA provided to AHCA on Monday, privacy laws prohibit the use of lists other than the electronic wait list for personally identifiable information on patients.

Alleged secret waiting lists and falsified records have been recently reported at various VA hospitals around the country, including allegations that some veterans put on a secret waiting list at the VA Health Care system in Phoenix died while awaiting appointments.

These secret waiting lists were supposed to hide delays and possibly were even used so management executives could earn bonuses connected to shorter wait times, according to news reports.

However, Wisnieski has said the paper waiting list found at the Gainesville VA hospital wasn’t a secret waiting list like the ones being reported from other VA facilities.

Instead, it appears to have been a supervisory oversight, Wisnieski said Tuesday.

œThere’s not any questions regarding the integrity of our system and our employees and the care that we provide to patients, he said. œI don’t want patients to be scared away thinking that they’re not going to get good care at our health care system, and I would think that would be the same case at other health care systems.

AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman told The Sun that the state agency sent a surveyor to the Gainesville VA hospital Monday in the hope of conducting an onsite review related to the risk management and quality assurance process used by the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 8, also known as the VA Sunshine Healthcare Network, which includes the Gainesville facility within its jurisdiction.

AHCA has been looking to do the same kind of review at multiple VA facilities across the state and has been denied access from those as well, including West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, Bay Pines Medical Center in St. Petersburg, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa and Miami VA Medical Center, according to AHCA news releases dating back to early April.

3 Comments

  1. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment.

    I do believe that you need to publish more on this issue, it might not be a
    taboo subject but generally people don’t discuss such topics.
    To the next! Many thanks!!

  2. What’s up, just wanted to mention, I liked this article. It was inspiring.
    Keep on posting!

  3. Jacqueline Kimbrough says:

    Pleas use undercover folks. And investigate the poor services of the VA Hospital in Miami ,Florida.I made one visit there(never to return.)The service was deplorable .!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × 5 =