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 in the aftermath of 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 underway into scheduling practices at 26 VA facilities does not include San Diego, according to local officials. The probe is being conducted by the Office of the Inspector General.
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. 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. He praised the local VA operation.
“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.
He said the demand for VA services is increasing as servicemen transition into civilian life and that Congress needs to provide the agency with adequate resources.
– City News Service
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