• July 30, 2014

Carter, VA differ on recent history at Temple hospital

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Posted: Sunday, June 8, 2014 4:30 am

Veterans Affairs records and Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, offer two different histories on problems recorded at the Temple VA facility.

In January 2012, the VA’s inspector general released a report on the Olin E. Teague Veterans Medical Center in Temple highlighting some of the issues under scrutiny at the hospital — and across the VA health system.

Carter told the Herald on May 29 the report was generated after he requested an investigation. He elaborated on that statement in an opinion piece he sent to newspapers last week where he said two senior leaders at the Temple VA were replaced in 2013.

“Upon learning of scheduling irregularities at the Temple, Texas, VA facility in 2011, I immediately demanded the Temple VA director at the time rectify these reported problems,” Carter wrote in the article. “When that did not resolve the issues, I requested a formal investigation. The Office of the Inspector General report, issued in January 2012, confirmed scheduling irregularities at the facility and offered a number of policy changes. These recommendations were implemented and two senior leaders at the Temple VA were replaced in 2013.”

The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System has a different story.

Spokeswoman Deborah Meyer said while changes were made to correct the issues highlighted in the report, no top leaders were fired. One top employee retired, two more moved to different facilities and current director Sallie A. Houser-Hanfelder joined the team in August.

Meanwhile, the 2012 IG report stated it was instigated by a call to the IG office’s Hotline Division with allegations of patient care delays and concerns about reusable medical equipment.

Carter’s office did not respond to the Herald’s requests Friday to clarify his statements.

The congressman’s Democratic opponent in the November election, Army Reserve Capt. Louie Minor, contacted the Herald about another mistake Carter told the paper.

In a May 28 news article, Carter said the VA’s problem was not in funding, because Congress increased its appropriations by 300 percent since 2002.

After researching historical data, the 2002 budget for the VA was $53 billion. The 2014 budget was $153.9 billion — a 190 percent increase in spending.

Again, Carter’s office did not respond when asked to clarify his statement.

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