• August 22, 2014

Temple VA problems in 2012 report

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Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 11:40 pm

Though a local congressman is crying “cover-up” regarding the current VA scandal, a 2-year-old report highlighted the problems now coming to light at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple.

Both U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are listed as recipients of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report dated January 2012.

The report was then posted online, but neither the media nor the lawmakers spoke out about it at that time.

A spokeswoman in Cornyn’s office said the senator’s office did receive the report at the time of its release.

“Our office ... repeatedly asked the Department of Veterans Affairs for additional information related to the health of our veterans and the growing backlog. Unfortunately, as recent reports have shown, the problems have only grown,” said Megan Mitchell, with the senator’s office.

In addition to prolonged wait times leading to delays in certain cancer diagnosis tests and the reuse of unclean medical equipment, the report also mentions “appointments were routinely made incorrectly by using the next available appointment date instead of the patient’s desired date.”

In response to the findings of the 2012 inspector general’s report, Deborah Meyer, a spokeswoman for the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, said the Temple hospital took action years ago.

“We had a plan back then, and those things have been addressed,” she said.

That plan included adding staff and equipment, Meyer said. Currently, the VA is considering adding staff at the Temple hospital and extending hours for certain services.

Carter’s office said the 2012 report was generated as a result of his inquiry to the VA because of constituents who brought issues to his attention.

Though the report is public, his office never produced a news release that year on the matter, because “constituents who contacted our office did not authorize us to share their information,” his office said.

“Most importantly, Congressman Carter’s intent was to solve these problems for veterans and put them first, not gain political points in the media.

“We feel as though our efforts indeed brought on the leadership change at the Temple VA,” said Taylor Gilliam, spokesman for Carter.

The Herald was unable to confirm with Meyer what leadership change.

In a Herald story Thursday, Carter described the situation in Temple as a “corrupt culture that the president and his administration created by supporting cover-ups like the IRS scandal, Benghazi and Operation Fast and Furious.”

Prior knowledge

Carter’s Democratic opponent in November’s election, Army Reserve Capt. Louie Minor, called attention Thursday to the congressman’s receipt of the 2012 report because he said “it is imperative for veterans and constituents to be aware that John Carter had prior knowledge of these issues at the Temple VA.”

“It is disgraceful to use my fellow veterans to attack President (Barack) Obama and the administration when John Carter should be held equally liable,” Minor said.

Carter’s office said the cover-up he referenced Thursday was the “current situation.”

The Temple VA facility is just one of many VA health care centers to come under fire in recent months for altering veterans’ desired appointment dates to meet wait-time goals.

A report released Wednesday by the inspector general described the department’s problems as “deep-seated.”

Both before and after the 2012 report was released on the Temple hospital, it earned recognition from the VA.

The Temple hospital took second place for the Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence Award in 2011 and 2012.

The award recognizes organizations within the department that have “implemented management approaches that result in sustained high levels of performance and service to the veterans we serve,” according to the VA website.

Part of the 2012 award packet included information showing the issue of incorrectly inputting desired appointments was corrected and done so through training of “front line employees” in October 2011.

However, an email sent in August 2012 to Carter’s office by local VA employees and obtained by the Herald discredits both statements.

The email states that on Aug. 6, 2012, an employee described that “they were being instructed by their supervisor to offer an available date, and enter the date that the patient acquiesced to as the patient’s desired date. This is an inappropriate scheduling practice ...”

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2 comments:

  • glmonty posted at 10:41 am on Fri, May 30, 2014.

    glmonty Posts: 2

    "Most importantly, Congressman Carter’s intent was to solve these problems for veterans and put them first, not gain political points in the media."

    Politicians being politicians, that is just a bunch of hogwash that they didn't want to gain political points. It never has stopped them before.They can spin their answer anyway they want to but here's the bottom line: They flat out didn't thoroughly read the 2012 report--if they even read part of it. [thumbdown]

     
  • Eliza posted at 4:01 am on Fri, May 30, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 712

    One thing the people I am aware of who use he Temple VA is that reverse - discrimination is being allowed to be in effect.
    Which is an unfair practice and is suppose to be illegal by federal law. -

    Also not enough supervision in the depts., seeing that employees are more interested in their jobs and taking care of the veterans, then in talking social life or trying to set up a social life with a fellow employee.

    The Veterans Hospitals being one of our most important agency's in federal government or at least many citizens think so, one of the most highly funded,should always be under observation . Not only at picture taking time, or during the next election, But always. The Tax Payers of the country are not, getting their money's worth when ,when its allowed to be wasted as can be seem from reports finally given to the public.

    If as much attention had been paid to what was going on inside the Veterans Hospitals, as is being paid to Immigration for the Millions of Illegal population (another problem that federal government has brought to the people by not doing the job they're getting paid to do in keeping our borders secure)

    Then maybe the people who have been allowed to die by Lack of Care from their VA System wouldn't have happened.

    This was out and out murder of these veterans by refusing them care which could have saved some of their lives.

    Anyone who has been involved for lack of caring or for the greed of wanting a 'BONUS', needs to be tried by the courts in the public square, including politicians, for their seemingly neglect of the people they are always telling,
    Thank You For Your Service'.

    So All would know how low they were willing to go for the Almighty Dollar or a vote in the ballot box.

     

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