A Veterans Affairs center in Alabama got off on the wrong foot with veterans by not having enough podiatrists on duty to cover patients’ needs, a review by the department’s inspector general found.
The Montgomery facility “lacked a sufficient number of adequately trained clerks to provide backup coverage when the primary clerk was on leave,” investigators found.
That meant that whenever the primary podiatrist went on vacation or got sick, there was nobody to treat the veterans’ many foot-related ailments, which can range from nail infections to diabetes-related complications.
A high turnover rate at the position didn’t help, the inspector general said, noting that the lack of services “appeared to be related to the frequent leave and subsequent retirement of the primary clerk and the use of untrained clerks to provide coverage.”
In June 2013, the medical center trained additional staff for foot care and developed a plan to ensure they always had someone available, which the inspector general said should correct the problem.