Allegations of secret waiting lists as VA hospitals surface

Federal investigators are looking into a Chicago area VA hospital amid claims that officials kept secret waiting lists so executives could collect bonuses for speedy treatment.

A whistleblower in the Chicago area says the secret lists prevented sick or even dying veterans from getting much needed treatment and may have been created at the Hines VA Hospital in Maywood.

Hines joins a handful of other VA hospitals across the country embroiled in a scandal that stretches from Spokane to Texas.  The allegation is that vets waiting to get physical or mental treatment for days, weeks, months were silently on waiting lists only hospital executives knew about in order to make executives look good and even get them bonuses.

In Texas, the fear is that some vets may have died waiting for treatment or killed themselves.

One VA social worker said she’s had enough and blew the whistle and outed Hines, a hospital now also being reviewed by federal authorities. The hospital confirms auditors were on site today.

The Hines VA Hospital released a statement denying any manipulation of data and suggesting today’s visit by the feds was just a coincidence. The statement says in part, “The purpose of this review is to ensure a full understanding of VA’s policy and continued integrity in managing patient access to care.”

Illinois’ Republican Senator Mark Kirk also released a statement saying, “The Inspector General should immediately broaden its investigation to include Hines VA and to deliver a swift and immediate report.”

The scandal is rattling Washington and the Dept of Veterans Affairs.

Sharon Helman, is now on administrative leave for her alleged role in keeping these lists. Helman worked in the Spokane VA hospital before being moved to Hines near Maywood. She left in 2012 to work in the Phoenix VA hospital which is now under investigation.

 

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