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Steps VA has taken to address patient-care scandal

 May 30: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns. The agency announces that top-level officials at the agency will not receive performance bonuses this year. It says employees’ performance in meeting a 14-day wait-time target for patients’ appointments will no longer be considered in job reviews, because clinics were not always able to meet that goal and some workers were falsifying wait-time information. Steps will be taken against those involved in falsifying wait-time data and against senior officials at facilities where audits identify problems. Senior officials will be removed from the VA’s Phoenix facility.

 June 4: Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson says the agency is contacting 1,700 veterans the department’s inspector general found were omitted from the Phoenix center’s official waiting list, and is starting to schedule appointments for them.

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 June 5: Gibson says retaliation won’t be tolerated against agency workers who have complained about covering up of scheduling delays. Gibson makes that vow after independent federal Office of Special Counsel says it is investigating possible retribution against 37 VA employees.

 June 9: Gibson announces additional steps, including immediate hiring freeze at the VA’s Veterans Health Administration office in Washington and 21 regional offices. He says the VA will hire extra clinical and patient-support staffers for the most overburdened VA facilities. Temporary staffing measures, including mobile medical units, will be used to accelerate care for veterans on wait lists. More veterans will be allowed to get care from local health care providers. An external audit will be conducted on the VA’s system for scheduling appointments.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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