Updated on Wednesday, June 4 at 3pm:
A secret waiting list leading to long wait times for patients at the Wichita VA was found this week. But one veteran says there may be another cause for the delays. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson has the story...
A preliminary investigation into the Wichita VA hospital confirmed the existence of a non-sanctioned wait list for veterans in need of medical care. Public Affairs Officer Diane Henderson said in an e-mail that the list was immediately shut down once it was discovered.
Veteran and former employee of the VA hospital Michel Howell has a different perspective on access to appointments. Howell was a secretary at Dole Medical Center where she said she saw a lack of accountability on the part of the veterans she was checking in for appointments.
She estimated that 40 percent of the patients scheduled each day don’t show up.
Howell said the issue is rampant throughout the VA system because there is no charge for a missed appointment and the visit itself is free.
“If a doctor is only seeing half of the scheduled appointments every day because their patients are not showing up, then the other patients who really have a medical issue and need to be seen, are getting pushed to the back of the line.” she said.
As a veteran herself, Howell said she always has received timely appointments and uses solely VA services for her health care.
Henderson, of the VA said that the Dole Medical Center is conducting training classes for employees so that they will better understand how to use the electronic wait list.
She also added that “all veterans on the list have been contacted so they can receive the services they deserve. The fact that no patients were harmed as a result of the waiting list is the best possible outcome."
Original: 6-03-14 3:30pm
The national scandal in VA healthcare has made it to Kansas. The Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wichita is the latest facility found to be placing patients on a secret waiting list. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson Reports….
The director of the Wichita VA hospital admitted Friday that veterans seeking medical care may have been put on a secret waiting list.
According to the Wichita Eagle, the list was brought to light by a fax sent to Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran on behalf of director Francisco Vazquez. The fax said that some Wichita veterans had to wait more than 90 days for an appointment with a primary care doctor.
It also reported that the U.S. Office of Inspector General found 10 secret lists in its Midwest network, which includes Kansas, Missouri, parts of Illinois, Arkansas and Kentucky. The list from Dole Medical Center in Wichita is one of them.
KMUW contacted Dole Medical Center’s interim public affairs officer, Diane Henderson, who said the facility will not be releasing an official statement. Henderson said she could be contacted by e-mail, but has not responded to e-mail questions.
Senators Roberts and Moran have yet to release an official statement on the investigation and neither was available for comment.