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Cincinnati VA responds to scheduling criticism

The Cincinnati VA Hospital is responding to claims made by a whistleblower that the medical facility allegedly manipulated data to make it appear patients were being seen quicker than they actually were. The whistleblower's claims are among dozens being investigated nationwide and the list is growing.

Cincinnati VA says no evidence of any deliberate hiding of wait times

Spokeswoman Denise Kerr said in a news release Thursday, "our own auditors have not found evidence of any deliberate manipulation of scheduling by either supervisors or schedulers." However, she says, the government report found that some clinics at the Cincinnati VAMC were not fully complying with the VA directive on scheduling.

Veterans Affairs auditors visited the Corryville hospital in May and the Community Based Outpatient Clinics in early June following a mandated national review based on reported scheduling problems. A report summarizing system-wide audit findings was released July 29.

VA says the scheduling policy is "overly-complicated"

Kerr says the report found the scheduling "resulted in a high potential to create confusion among clerks and front-line supervisors." The current scheduling director requires facilities put Veterans on an Electronic Waiting List if they cannot be seen within 90 days for a new patient or 120 days for established patients.

Kerr says at the Cincinnati VAMC the average wait time for new patients improved to 45 days in July from 53 days in May. She says the hospital and its clinics are working toward a goal of seeing all new  Veterans within 30 days.

Here's how the VA is trying to do that:

  • Building larger clinics in Florence, KY  and Georgetown, OH
  • With government funding add more primary care teams
  • A new GI procedure area opened at the Cincinnati VA
    Credit provided
    This is the new GI area that the hospital says will help it see more patients than before.

VA Medical Center Director Linda Smith said, "Since our audit visit we have worked hard to bring ourselves into 100% compliance with all VA scheduling requirements. Training refresher sessions with question and answer sessions were held for the 400 employees who schedule."
The Cincinnati VA news release says it, "takes any whistleblower allegations seriously and will comply with the Office of Inspector General and the VA to remedy inappropriate practices or mismanagement."

Former Procter and Gamble CEO Bob McDonald has been confirmed as the new secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.