Hines VA Hospital whistleblower speaks out

“It’s ashamed it’s deadly it’s out of control it needs to change.”

Vets calling the Hines VA Hospital for help are often placed on secret wait lists, while administrators make it seem like the hospital is meeting goals tied to big bonuses according to Germaine Carno,“They think waiting two, three, four months is normal.”

She is a whistleblower.

Carno is also president of the union that represents doctors, psychiatrists and physical therapists.

In 2011, all VA hospitals were issued a mandate that veterans must receive treatment within two weeks of their request.

According to its website, the 471-bed facility near Maywood served more than 50,000 vets last year.

“We have so many veterans and not enough staff to think a veteran can call and get an appointment in two weeks is absurd.”

Carno says pressure to meet deadlines lead to manipulation of the system.  She claims veterans were often forced to wait months for care and secret lists were kept detailing that information. However Carno says the official reports were written so it appeared the vets received treatment within the two week period.

“Two things fuel this manipulation, one is the bonuses and the greed– it’s just easier.”

Carno says workers at Hines alerted her after similar allegations were made at the phoenix VA hospital. There a former administrator claims dozens of veterans died while waiting on secret lists.

Sharon Helman, the director in Phoenix is currently on leave during an investigation. Helman served as the director of Hines from 2010 to 2012.

Yesterday, Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs spoke to a senate subcommittee about the allegations. The undersecretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, who also testified, resigned Friday.

Carno hopes the shakeup at the top will lead to veterans getting the care they need without the long and unnecessary delays.

“It’s the cover-up that’s the problem.”

7 comments

  • Daniel Walsh

    I am a service connected Veteran that received care at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. The issue is not "NEW", it has been going on for years. Now that it has cost people their lives it has become "news worthy!" Why is no one looking at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center? Is it because no one has blown the whistle there? Congress passes these new rules and expects the VA Hospitals to make them work. HOW? Most clinics only meet one time a week and that may only be for a "morning" or "afternoon." How can you expect to have "Care" in 14 days of the request. Of course the VA Hospitals are going to lie about the number of patients they see. Clerks are trained to give a patient the first available appointment for that particular clinic. That appointment may not be for 6 weeks. So, the clerk chooses the option that is what the patient wanted. We, as patients, do not know this is what they are doing. So, we except this appointment. Or better yet, When they have the "big turn over of doctors on July 1". The clerks can not schedule patients for an out-going doctor unless they have a replacement. The patient calls to make an appointment and is told by the clerk that "they can not make an appointment yet due to the schedule not being released." I was on of those patients and as the weeks went by calling every week for an appointment, getting the same answer, finally having to contact the Patient Advocate to get an appointment just to be told that because I waited so long to make an appointment my "pre-cancer" is now cancer and I had to have a 2 1/2" piece of my face removed. Or, How about this – You have an appointment that you have waited 6 weeks for just to be called by the Doctors and be told that they need to reschedule you because there will be no clinic that day. So, you wait another 6 weeks and then you get another call by the same doctors telling you again – there will be no clinic that day and that they need to reschedule you. If you look in the computer on those dates you will see that "none of the patients were cancelled prior to the clinic appointment date. What you will see is that the appointments were all cancelled "by patient" on the clinic appointment date. And yes, it is all about "THOSE BONUS CHECKS!" How can they save money and still appear to be giving care to the Veterans. If a Veteran is seriously ill and will be taking a lot of resources then that Veteran gets appointments that a several weeks off or you deny that Veteran certain privileges, that they were eligible for prior, and then blame Congress for that privilege being denied making it very hard for that veteran to get the care. It is all about showing that you were under- budget which makes those BONUS CHECKS BIGGER! AS, I stated earlier it is sad that it took the death of 4 Veterans for this issue to finally get the attention it deserves and that Congress needs to take a good hard look at it and stop blaming the Veterans Administration for this problem. Congress passes the laws that the VA must implement without thinking about the consequences that it may have on the Veterans or the Hospitals.

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