Three new reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs' independent Inspector General detail multiple instances of gross mismanagement, lengthy wait times for patients, and egregiously poor standards of care. The Hill has the details in a story entitled, "IG probes uncover more problems at VA hospitals:"
The VA Office of Inspector General (IG) released separate reports on clinics in Alaska, Illinois, and California showing protracted delays and mismanagement at the hospitals dedicated to providing care for veterans. The evaluations, first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, come days after Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton said the scandal about wait times at the VA is not as “widespread” of a problem as coverage would indicate. The first evaluation, conducted at a clinic in Los Angeles and released on Wednesday, found that a patient, who later died, “experienced a delay in obtaining a surgical consult to address his complaints of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).” The patient, a male veteran in his 70s, had complained of “severe dysphagia” in February 2011 and died a week before he was scheduled to have a surgical consultation to place a feeding tube. The appointment to arrange the surgery was scheduled in July 2012. An autopsy was not performed at the time and the IG could not determine the patient’s cause of death. He had dropped from 130 pounds in June of 2011 to 118 pounds in January of 2012. The report also said the Los Angeles facility had “significant numbers of neurology consults open longer than 90 days,” which the clinic blamed on a failure to “close consults properly after patients had been seen.”
This particular veteran sought care for a specific condition in February 2011 and died 16 months later, just before he was finally scheduled for treatment. His autopsy "could not determine the cause of the patient's death," but he'd complained of difficulty swallowing, lost 130 pounds as he awaited care, and died. A medical mystery, to be sure. On to the investigations in Alaska and Illinois:
The second report, released on Thursday and evaluating a clinic in Marion, Illinois, found that nearly all of the independent practitioners reviewed did not have the necessary skills and training to perform their jobs. It also said the facility did not have a “defined plan or policy to have a qualified surgeon available 24/7 on all within 60 minutes." The third evaluation, released on Thursday and assessing a clinic in Anchorage, Alaska, found that clean and dirty items were stored together 75 percent of the time in patient care areas. The facility also failed to correct four deficiencies in physical security at facility pharmacies that were identified at least two years ago, and inspectors did not consistently complete pharmacy inspections. Eighty percent of the clinicians at the Alaska facility were not qualified in suicide-prevention training, and 30 percent of patients assessed to be at high risk of suicide did not have documented safety plans in their health records.
Unqualified healthcare "professionals," inadequate preparedness, and unsanitary conditions -- all on the heels of last year's scandalous revelations of systemic corruption and incompetence. Hundreds of thousands of veterans died waiting for care, as officials across the country deliberately covered up unacceptable wait times in order to hide the agency's terrible results and protect performance bonuses. Whistleblowers were punished. Congress' large, post-scandal injection of money hasn't improved matters. Taken together, these developments represent a comprehensive failure of government-run healthcare, particularly because this is one discrete area in which most Americans agree that the government should be administrating care. But last week, Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee sniffed that these shocking, documented failures really weren't as "widespread" as 'ideological' critics have made them out to be, turning a question about the scandal into a factually-bereft attack on Republicans. She has since undertaken a furious walk-back campaign, pronouncing herself "outraged" over the matter, following a bipartisan outcry. But she said what she said; it was revealing. Hillary Clinton thinks the VA scandal -- much like Benghazi and her serious email troubles -- is just another phony controversy cooked up and embellished by the vast right-wing conspiracy. Her knowledge of key facts is either nonexistent or has been subordinated to her ideological zeal for ever-larger government. Her commitment to demonizing Republicans seems far stronger than her commitment to the men and women who've risked their lives in service to this nation, and who've earned our help and support. One cannot fix a problem one does not recognize or acknowledge, after-the-fact damage control spin notwithstanding. I'll leave you with this, via America Rising: