The director of the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center says she has been briefed on the findings of a long-awaited VA Inspector General inquiry into patient scheduling issues at the center but has not been told when the report will be released.
“I have gotten a verbal outbrief,” Wilmington VAMC Director Robin Aube-Warren said following a town hall-style meeting at the center Thursday night. “In fact, I just asked today if they could give me a report number so I could request a copy. I don’t know if it’s been published, but I have not seen a written report.”
The wait time issue came to a head last year. A nationwide scandal erupted when long delays in care and manipulation of appointment schedules at the Phoenix VA hospital were publicized, leading to the forced resignation of the VA secretary, VA IG investigations of more than 90 facilities and a halting start to firing complicit workers.
The Wilmington VAMC was among those singled out. Wilmington-system staffers told The News Journal last summer of practices such as shifting patients from one doctor’s caseload to another’s, making those patients lose their places in line, so to speak. Numerous patients told The News Journal of lengthy delays they said made their conditions worse.
Members of Congress and other critics have demanded accountability for the delays. Aube-Warren said Wilmington takes disciplinary action against workers for “various reasons” but added, “I have no first-hand knowledge of any misconduct … associated with scheduling at the Wilmington VA.”
If any discipline is to be meted out, she said, it won’t take place until after the IG report is released and any misconduct comes to light.
During the meeting, Aube-Warren and other officials spoke before a largely empty auditorium; the bitter chill that was sweeping over the region kept all but about 20 hardy veterans away. Their questions generally focused on personal issues, such as a plea for the center to begin offering auricular acupuncture, a diagnostic and treatment system based on ear acupuncture.