Junction VA hospital shows poorly in wait times
The Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Grand Junction is 16th on a list of 143 VA facilities nationwide whose employees were told to intentionally falsify wait times for patients, according to an analysis by the newspaper USA Today.
In a story last week, the national newspaper found that at least one appointment scheduler at 109 Veterans Affairs hospitals and medical clinics said that at least some wait times at their facilities had been falsified.
It also said that 110 of those facilities kept evidence of long wait times out of their official electronic tracking systems, maintaining secret wait lists instead.
The Grand Junction VA Medical Center was no exception.
According to the newspaper’s data, the local hospital maintained a proper use of the wait list only 45.5 percent of the time and kept 18.2 percent of its appointments outside of its normal tracking system.
It also showed that the hospital here had falsified appointment data 27.3 percent of the time, making it one of the worst abusers of wait-time information in the nation.
The data the newspaper used came from internal Veterans Affairs survey data from an audit of the facilities by the VA itself. A wider audit still is underway by the VA Inspector General and the U.S. Justice Department.
Paul Sweeney, the Grand Junction hospital’s spokesman, said Monday that officials here were not authorized to comment about the issue except to read the following statement:
“In mid-April, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs directed the Veterans Health Administration to complete a nationwide access audit to ensure a full understanding of VA’s policy among scheduling staff, identify any inappropriate scheduling practices used by employees regarding veterans’ preferences for appointing dates, and review waiting list management. As promised in the final access audit report, published on June, 9, 2014, each facility where there was any indication of scheduling impropriety is currently undergoing further review by either the Office of Inspector General or the VA team outside of VHA. VA will not have additional information to share until after those reviews are completed.”
The newspaper reported that workers at some of the facilities feared for their jobs if they didn’t manipulate the wait-time data.
Thirty two of the hospitals did not manipulate any appointment data at all, while about half of them did so only 15 percent of the time or less.
Most hospitals that falsified appointment data were in or near highly populated areas, such as Philadelphia and Dallas, but some were in smaller cities such as Grand Junction.