Nevada Veterans Foundation chairman speaks out about controversy
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 5:00 PM
CARSON CITY - The chairman of the Nevada Veterans Foundation is speaking out about the growing controversy that some VA medical facilities understated months-long wait times for health care appointments for veterans.
Dr. Richard Small says while his experience with the VA in Nevada has been positive, he isn't surprised to learn of the reported abuses at other VA facilities.
"Obviously it's more important to these people, their own bonuses and advancement in the system, than doing their job," he says. "And that's truly disgusting."
The VA Office of Inspector General issued a recent report linking abnormalities in reporting to employee bonuses.
It found that a sample of 226 veterans waited an average of 115 days for initial primary care appointments at Phoenix area clinics.
According to the report, the VA executives in Phoenix reported a 24-day average waiting period for those veterans.
The Inspector General says allegations at the Phoenix VA facilities include "gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct by VA senior hospital leadership, creating systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths."
Darin Farr, public affairs officer for VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, says while VA care may be under the microscope in Arizona, the northern Nevada facility, which serves thousands of veterans, has won awards for its care and service.
"In this last couple of weeks with all of the national sensationalism going on behind this story out of Phoenix, our patients have been very quick to defend us, and come forward and say, 'That's not happening here in Reno,'" he says.
Members of Congress, including U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, are calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.