The VA health care system has been accused of delaying care all over the country and in some cases, it is costing vets their lives.
One veterans’ group is even calling on Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Some local Dallas employees are accusing the VA of manipulating data to hide delays and they say the motivation is money. They say no one has come forward until now because they fear retaliation.
“It is a good ole boys network in Dallas,” an employee told FOX 4. “You will not advance at all. If you do complain or raise any issues about any type of delay in patient care or any type of legal concerns or issues that you have, then you are severely punished by harassment and bullying in the work place.”
The employee says patients have suffered waiting for appointments and treatment at the North Texas hospital.
“Are you aware of any deaths?” FOX 4’s Becky Oliver asked.
“Yes,” the employee said. “It may not have been the final cause, but it certainly made it faster and contributed.”
She says patients who are supposed to have a follow-up visit within 72 hours with a primary care physician or PCP get delayed, even with a doctor’s order.
“I’ve seen where patients are coming back from the ER and their PCP gives them an appointment six months out,” the employee said. “And they’ve been in the ER. Obviously, they had some kind of emergent issue.”
“So 72 hours could turn into six months?” Oliver asked.
“Yes,” the employee said.
The employee says the numbers in the system are manipulated to show patients are actually being seen when they are not. And it is all about the money.
“Anything they can do to make their numbers look good so they don’t have to actually work and see the patients, so they can still get their bonuses,” the employee said.
A union representative with the American Federation of Government employees says the falsification of numbers is tied to performance measures. It is a numbers-driven system, and more employees are not coming forward because they fear retaliation and reprisal.
And now with the scandal blowing up in cities across the country, the employee says upper management in Dallas is now instructing employees to alter or delete items in the system that could point to wrongdoing in North Texas.
“They were told to get rid of all the papers where they were writing down patients, the delay of appointments and to delete them,” the employee said.
No one with the VA would agree to an on-camera interview with FOX 4, but a spokesperson released a statement saying: "We take any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously and pledge to take prompt, corrective actions if allegations are substantiated."
“From my experience…they’re just trying to do a mass cover up,” said the employee. “I don’t think that stuff is going to change at the VA unless they kind of look at everything from the top down and address the issues.”
Whistleblowers in Austin and San Antonio have also comes forward, accusing the VA of manipulating data to hide long wait times.
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