• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 5s

Email reveals deliberate effort by VA hospital to hide long patient waits

By Jennifer Janisch / CBS News 5:37 PM May 9, 2014

A Veterans Affairs employee at the VA Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has been placed on administrative leave after CBS News obtained an email showing an employee directing his staff on how to game the appointments system to make it appear as though veterans were being seen within the VA’s 14-day directive.

The email, written by Telehealth Coordinator David Newman, a registered nurse, describes how patients at the Cheyenne VA Medical Center are always listed getting appointments within a 14-day window, no matter when the appointment was first requested, and no matter how long the patient actually waited.The memo admitted, “Yes, this is gaming the system a bit…” because “when we exceed the 14 day measure, the front office gets very upset, which doesn’t help us.”

The employee further instructs staff on how to “get off the bad boys list” by “cancelling the visit (by clinic) and then rescheduling it with a desired date within that 14 day window.”

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made the following statement in response to an inquiry by CBS News:

“On May 9, upon learning of an email sent by a Cheyenne VA Medical Center employee, I immediately requested the independent VA Office of Inspector General conduct a thorough investigation of the actions outlined in the employee’s email. I have also directed that the employee be removed immediately from patient care responsibilities and placed on administrative leave. VA takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously. If true, the behavior outlined in the email is unacceptable.”

However, CBS News has learned that the VA’s Office of the Medical Inspector had already investigated and substantiated claims of improper scheduling practices at the Cheyenne VAMC, sending a report to the Office of Special Counsel on December 23, 2013. It is unclear why it took five months, and an inquiry by CBS News, for the VA to take action against an employee there and order an Inspector General’s investigation.

Friday’s developments come a day after Shinseki directed his agency to complete a nationwide review of clinics at VA Medical Centers across the country to assess veterans’ access to care.

CBS News’ Wyatt Andrews contributed to this report.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Latest Stories

  • News

    BioBlitz takes scientific snapshot of Arctic wildlife

    by Heather Hintze on May 23, 22:56

    The National Park Service celebrated its 100-year anniversary by holding BioBlitzes around the country. For the community of Anaktuvuk Pass on the North Slope, it was their first chance to hold an event like this in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. A BioBlitz is basically a scavenger hunt for scientists. “One of the main […]

  • Politics

    Special session off to sluggish start: Lawmakers still stuck on oil tax credits

    by Liz Raines on May 23, 22:44

    The first day of the special legislative session came and went, with legislators working less than two hours. The House and Senate gaveled in for brief floor sessions, but neither body held a single hearing. Last week, controversy over oil tax credit reform kept lawmakers from finding a compromise on a state operating budget before […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaska woman invents special coat to protect small pets from eagles

    by Bonney Bowman on May 23, 21:44

    When a pair of eagles nested in Janet Wass’s former backyard, she wanted something to keep her small dog, Juju, safe. She did some research and “My Invisible Pet” was born. Wass made Juju a dog coat out of shiny, reflective material. The coat has a light on the back with a bright beam. “It […]

  • News

    Wasilla boy wins 3-wheeled bike, new sense of independence

    by Shannon Ballard on May 23, 20:22

    Riding a bike is a treasured childhood experience, but sadly, many children with special needs miss out. An eight-year-old Wasilla boy was one of them until recently. Eric Edwards was born with cocaine in his system and later diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other movement disorders that affect his ability to stand, sit and speak. He went […]

  • News

    Providence hospital to expand emergency department for children

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 23, 20:00

    Providence Alaska Medical Center has received permission from the state to add 13 new treatment rooms to its emergency department, raising the number of rooms from 37 to 50, including two trauma rooms. Providence CEO Dr. Richard Mandsager said 10 of the 13 rooms will be devoted to a new pediatric area that will focus on children […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaska villages compete for energy project funding

    by Alexis Fernandez on May 23, 19:26

    Rural Alaska villages are competing for funding to pay for projects that will bring down energy costs in their communities. The competition launched in January, and is part of a $4 million grant awarded by the U.S. Deptartment of Energy (DOE) to rural Alaska for energy projects. A total of 67 communities applied for the […]

  • Lifestyle

    What does it take to garden in the Arctic?

    by Heather Hintze on May 23, 18:53

    The ground in Anaktuvuk pass has barely thawed but Casey Edwards is ready to get her plants in the ground. “Last year I had way too many. I was super ambitious,” Edwards laughed. “This year we’re just sticking to cucumber, cabbage, squash.” This is just her second year testing out her green thumb, seeing what […]

  • News

    BP plans to sell Midtown Anchorage office building

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 23, 17:56

    A BP spokesperson says the company has decided to sell its property on the corner of Benson Boulevard and Seward Highway and lease office space from the new owner. “This is a real estate transaction under which we become tenants rather than owners of the office building,” the spokesperson said, explaining the company would remain […]