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Report: Indy VA Facility Accused Of Manipulating Wait Times

A union leader accused the Roudebush VA Medical Center of changing wait times, which is why the hospital was marked for 'further review' after an initial audit.

Roudebush Medical Center

Photo: Veterans Health (Flickr)

The Roudebush Medical Center was marked for "further review" after an internal audit in May.

A report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs indicates the department marked Indianapolis’ VA hospital for further review after an internal audit because a union president accused the facility of manipulating wait times.

Department of Veterans Affairs representatives are expected to brief Congressional leaders this week on the 112 facilities marked for “further review” after the May audit. When the department released its initial report, it did not give a specific reason for why it singled out those facilities.

Roudebush VA Medical Center spokeswoman Julie Webb says preliminary information she has received ahead of the briefings on Wednesday shows a union president, who was not named, accused the hospital of changing wait times to make the facility look more efficient.

But she says surveys of the hospitals’ employees that were conducted during the internal audit do not corroborate that allegation.

“Ninety-five percent of our staff reports that their work is reviewed by supervisors and there have been no instances of manipulation of providers’ scheduled observed,” she says. “Additionally, our director has been talking with schedulers, and going out there and talking to all our frontline staff to see if there were any concerns raised and to date there’s been no data or instances that have been relayed to the management of the medical center that would support any allegations of questionable scheduling practices.”

But as the Indianapolis Star reports, employees did indicate a problem with the computer appointment system.

Only 5 percent of those interviewed who work under the umbrella of the Indianapolis facility said they felt they had been told to record a different requested appointment date than the one the patient had requested.

But only 14 percent reported that the computerized appointment scheduling system was being used correctly. Nationally, nearly half the VA employees surveyed said it was.

Employees were also asked how often the lack of available appointments made it difficult to provide timely access to care. Indianapolis employees said that is “sometimes” an issue, the same as the response nationally.

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, R-Indiana, sits on the House Committee for Veterans Affairs and says she looks forward to the additional information from the audit. She says as a whole, she’s pleased with the review process.

“But I still want to make sure that all our hospitals and clinics are fully functioning, doing what they told the veterans they would do, and if there are any decreases that we find, you best that I’ll be on them to make sure that those monies are allocated as well here,” Walorski says.

Officials at the Roudebush hospital say they have not been told when or if a further review will be conducted.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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