Day in and day out, staff at the Durham VA Medical Center work to give veterans their well-earned care.
“I’ve been coming to this Durham VA since September 1997,”explained veteran Audrey Dundee.
For some it’s smooth sailing.
“To this day I have zero complaints,” Dundee added.
But many others don’t have the same experience.
“Veterans have been talking about this, veterans advocates have been talking about this, and it just appears that no one listens,” said Patricia Harris.
She is head of American Legion of North Carolina and a 22-year U.S. Army veteran herself. Harris said she’s heard complaint after complaint about veterans not being scheduled or having their appointments canceled without notice.
“It’s amazing they survived the war, and then they come home and then die? because they’re not able to get medical treatment on time?” Harris explained.
“The goal is to have patients seen within 14 days,” said Shannon Mann, spokesperson for the Durham VA.
It’s a nation-wide problem that now has every VA hospital in the country being audited.
While preparing for the audit, the Durham VA placed two employees on administrative leave while the VA investigates allegations of “inappropriate scheduling practices.” The VA would not go into what that means.
“These two employees may or may not have been following that practice,” said Mann.
“Someone has to be accountable for this,” said Harris, “and to (have the employees) just be put on leave? What if those lives that they were cooking books and playing around with these schedules were in danger?” she questioned.
The Durham VA will not admit fault of any of their employees and says they believe the audit will show they’re scheduling is on track.
“It’s like a cancer, there are a lot of things that need to be looked at and I think that audit is first of many,” Harris said.
“Obviously this is dealing with people’s lives and we want to take every means necessary that were doing a thorough review because it affects them and it affects our center so we want to do it right,” said Mann.
For many veterans it’s a battle on the home front they never thought they’d have to fight
“Many of them think that all the VA is doing is waiting for the veterans to die,” added Harris.
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