The VA still not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel
...or maybe they are and it is an incoming train.
First, AZ Central gives us this:
Newly released records show the Phoenix VA Health Care System paid out roughly $10 million in bonuses during the past three years, when some staff manipulated patient wait-time records to trigger bonuses as veterans died awaiting care.
The Arizona Republic, after asking for bonus records at least 10 times since March, obtained the data Friday from the Department of Veteran Affairs under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Bonus payouts increased significantly under Sharon Helman, who became director of the Phoenix VA in February 2012. She was placed on administrative leave last month with two other top staff members amid accusations of mismanagement stemming from the bonus scandal. Helman could not be reached, but previously has said she was unaware of fraudulent record-keeping or patient deaths caused by delays.
And the Washington Times adds this:
A top Department of Veterans Affairs executive received tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses even after an internal investigation found she lied about having a master’s degree, according to a member of Congress who has asked the department to justify the bonus.
Sheila Cullen, director of VA’s Sierra Pacific Network, received a $21,000 bonus in 2009 and $23,100 the following year. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Republican, disclosed the bonus in a letter last week to Sloan Gibson, acting VA secretary.
The Times reported last month that a 2009 inspector general’s report found Ms. Cullen falsely claimed in numerous official documents over the years that she’d received a master’s degree from Bernard M. Baruch College-Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
When pressed by investigators about the fact she never received the degree, Ms. Cullen said she didn’t know she had claimed having the degree and she didn’t know who wrote her resume.
Mr. Miller called that explanation “laughable” in his June 13 letter to the VA.
“I find the lack of candor exhibited by Ms. Cullen to be utterly reprehensible, especially considering the ongoing investigation into the VA where the credibility of information provided by VA senior executives has been called into question,” Mr. Miller wrote.
Meanwhile, the House Veterans Affairs Committee is cataloguing a whole lot of troubling things, like:
St. Louis, Missouri
More than 1,800 veteran patients of the St. Louis VA Medical Center may have been exposed to HIV and Hepatitis as a result of unsanitary dental equipment. The facility has remained under fire for patient deaths, persistent patient-safety issues and critical reports. Despite the problems at the medical center, the facility’s director from 2009 - 2013, RimaAnn Nelson, received nearly $25,000 in bonuses during her tenure there.
A December 2012 audit of the Fayetteville VA Medical Center found facility employees did not complete required suicide prevention follow-ups 90 percent of the time for patients at a high risk of suicide. The audit also found the center “noncompliant” in cleanliness of patient care areas, environmental safety, dental clinic safety, training and testing procedures. In July 2012, during an investigation that substantiated patient misdiagnosis complaints, VA’s inspector general found the responsible physician failed to properly review medication information 56 percent of the time, a step that is “critical to appropriate evaluation, treatment planning, and safety.” Fayetteville VA Medical Center Director Elizabeth B. Goolsby received a performance bonus of $7,604 in 2012.
Dallas VA Medical Center Director Jeff Milligan and regional director Lawrence Biro have received a combined $50,000 in bonuses since 2011 despite a series of allegations from VA workers, patients and family members regarding poor care at the facility as well as more than 30 certification agency complaints against the medical center in the last three years.