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VA San Diego Healthcare System Passes Audit

The VA San Diego Healthcare System is not one of the VA medical centers being investigated by the Office of Inspector General.

Photo Credit: VA San Diego Healthcare System
Photo Credit: VA San Diego Healthcare System

An audit of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System found it is operating in compliance with agency standards for patient scheduling, VA officials said Thursday.

The findings came from a review conducted last week amid an uproar over allegations that as many as 40 veterans in Phoenix died while awaiting care. Representatives from other VA medical centers performed the audit, according to VA San Diego spokeswoman Cynthia Butler.

A separate investigation now underway into scheduling practices at 26 VA facilities by the Office of the Inspector General does not include San Diego, according to local officials with the agency.

In a statement, the VA San Diego Healthcare System said it "prides itself in being the only healthcare organization in the area dedicated to providing high quality, timely care to veterans in San Diego and Imperial counties."

"As evidenced by the results of a recent external scheduling review, VA San Diego Healthcare System consistently schedules patients in compliance with national Veteran Health Administration standards," the statement said. "Nine out of 10 of our scheduling clerks are veterans themselves and  have been trained on proper scheduling practices and are audited at least monthly to ensure compliance."

According to the statement, the majority of new patients are seen within 14 days, with all new patients seen within three months of the date of enrollment. More than 99 percent of existing primary care patients and 98 percent of specialty care patients are seen within 14 days of their desired appointment date, the statement said.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he sent Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors to Phoenix to oversee the investigation. He has stood by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, despite calls for him to resign.

In San Diego, congressional candidate Carl DeMaio called for Shinseki to step down.

"It's evident that Secretary Shinseki does not possess the ability to lead the VA in such a way that any member of the military or their family members can have confidence that they will be treated," DeMaio said. "The idea that even one veteran -- let alone 40 -- may have died as a result of having to wait inappropriate lengths to receive treatment is abhorrent and should not be tolerated or excused."

He called for "swift and immediate action" to ensure the health and well-being of veterans.

His opponent, incumbent Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, voted in favor of a bill this week that would give the VA secretary more flexibility over the employment status of senior executives.

"Too often the VA is failing to keep our nation's promise to veterans and their families, as was evidenced again recently by reprehensible mismanagement at the Phoenix VA facility," Peters said. "Thankfully, San Diego's VA centers have performed better than most and the backlog of benefits claims has been significantly reduced in our region."

He said the demand for VA services is increasing as servicemen transition into civilian life. Congress needs to provide the agency with adequate resources, he said.

—City News Service
Gerry Reeves May 23, 2014 at 06:16 PM
I have been a patient at the VA San Diego Hospital for the past 12 years. Their professionalism, attention to detail and quality of care is amazing, simply amazing. My primary care guy is responsible for saving my life not once, but three times. I will be forever in their debt and remain one of their biggest supporters. They have exceed my hope and expectation 100 percent of the time
Jay Berman May 24, 2014 at 07:14 PM
I have been using the San Diego VA Healthcare System for almost 20 years ... last year I had major back surgery there, the surgeon is from UCSD, he did a perfect job, the nurses and other specialists were very professional. They are short staffed in some areas and it can take some time for non emergency procedures ... I find the care as good or better than the private sector (that is REAL hard for me to say too)

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