‘Ground zero’ of VA struggles

Despite intense public scrutiny and leadership changes at the top of the VA, a whistleblower says patient care has not improved at a troubled Phoenix facility, which two years ago became the focus of criticism.

A Department of Veterans Affairs employee, who initially called attention to the Phoenix VA in 2014, says appointment delays persist at what he calls “ground zero” of “the worst example of VA health care in the United States.”

This, on the heels of an inspector general’s report, which found poor scheduling practices that extended beyond the Phoenix VA hospital, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

The Phoenix VA became a flashpoint for “change” after accounts from whistleblowers that VA employees kept secret waiting lists and that veterans had died waiting for appointments. The scandal led to legislative reforms and the appointment of Robert McDonald as the VA’s secretary.

But problems continue.

“I think that the VA is so corroded and corrupt at this point it doesn’t matter who the figurehead is,” says Brandon Coleman, who had worked as an addiction therapist at the Phoenix VA.

What’s revealed, once again, is a culture within segments of the VA that’s resistant to change, let alone corrections. Unless veterans are given realistic health care options outside the VA to reduce wait times, nothing is going to change.