DAYTON, Ohio — An Ohio senator's office says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating delayed appointments for pulmonary care patients at a southwestern Ohio VA.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown told the Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1KUZgmL) he has contacted VA Secretary Bob McDonald about apparent scheduling irregularities at the Dayton VA. McDonald took over the VA after his predecessor was removed following a nationwide scandal over scheduling practices.
The VA had not scheduled callback appointments for about 1,000 pulmonary patients between October 2013 and May 2015, officials said.
The patient list included 150 veterans who are now dead. Dayton VA Director Glenn Costie told the newspaper July 31 that they weren't linked to delayed care.
"They were all receiving care somewhere in our system of care," Costie said. "They just had not been called back for their pulmonary (follow-up)."
He said it seemed to be a "standalone issue with a particular clinic."
McDonald told Brown, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, that the VA was investigating the irregularity, according to the senator's office.
Secret waiting lists have been reported at other VA medical centers, according to U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and published reports, but Dayton VA officials said last year they didn't have anything resembling such a list.
"When we first learned of the allegations out of Phoenix, we conducted our own internal audit of how our appointment system and wait lists work, looking for anything that could possibly be interpreted —correctly or otherwise — as a 'secret wait list,' " Dayton VA spokesman Ted Froats said in a May 2014 statement. "I am pleased to share that the results of that audit were entirely positive."
The names of pulmonary care patients were kept on an electronic file on a secure VA server, Froats said in an email Thursday. He said policy on scheduling appointments was not followed.
Employee schedules and assignments have been adjusted to make appointments for the hundreds of waiting patients happen faster. Most have been scheduled for follow-up appointments. They are expected to be completed by December, he said.
Froats said last week that the VA Office of the Inspector General was notified about the incident.
Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com