VA comes up with plan to deal with 1,700 non-wait listed vets - CBS 5 - KPHO

VA comes up with plan to deal with 1,700 non-wait listed vets

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The calls to resign for the head of the embattled VA system are growing. For now, the President still has confidence in Eric Shinseki. But several reports say he's actually skating on thin ice. And that appears to be the general feeling of many in Congress.

The expanding opinion for a new VA secretary follows Wednesday's announcement that more than 1,700 veterans at the Phoenix VA were never put on a list for an appointment.

Brian McKean, a Navy veteran says his dad, Eugene, also a Navy vet is lucky to be alive.

"Working with the VA is kind of like almost like a structured neglect I would say," Brian said.

We've introduced Eugene to you before. He's been waiting for adequate follow-up care after his heart attack in January.

"Primary care physician," Eugene clarified when we spoke to him. " I have not seen him recently."

Eugene feels he has good reason to believe he's on the list of 1,700 vets identified by the VA Inspector General who are waiting to see a doctor.

"Here it is almost the middle of the year, four months out, and I'm still waiting to hear about my heart function, when I can start cardiac rehab, etc.," Eugene said. "It's a constant pushing off of appointments, expanded wait times, and inefficiencies in different types of service," his son Brian added.

Buried deep in that 1,700 is a subset of veterans who were seen in a non-primary clinic, such as an emergency room, but then got no additional follow-up consult.

"I would say that he [Eugene] was probably on that list at one point in time, if not still on that list," Brian said. "His very first appointment to see a doctor was eight months after he first went in."

Late Thursday afternoon, CBS 5 News learned the VA has created what it calls the 'Accelerated Access to Care Initiative.' They believe it's the first step to fix wait times and substandard care.

The VA says initial calls to all 1,700 'forgotten' vets identified in that bombshell Inspector General's report will be made by Friday. The goal of the program is to increase access. And even after the 'initial surge' of calls to unserved vets is over, the program will remain in place.

Thursday, the Phoenix VA issued a statement about the 1,700 veterans.

The Phoenix VA Health Care System is responding to the urgent need to contact, assess and deliver care for the 1,700 Veterans identified by the OIG report. We are using local and national VA resources to accomplish our goal to contact all of the Veterans by the end of the week.

But the Phoenix VA has also developed some strategies to triage those vets:

*Ensure primary care clinic panels are correctly sized and achieving the desired level of productivity.

*Extend or flex clinic hours on nights and weekends.

*Make overtime available to providers.

*Assess the availability of community providers to provide the care being requested.

VA facilities will make a minimum of three attempts to contact any veteran patient new to VA care, or new to a particular clinic in a facility, who is scheduled for any appointment more than 30 days out, or is currently on the Electronic Wait List (EWL).

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