Phoenix VA hospital destroying evidence, says whistleblower

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“The main problem in Phoenix is there’s a horrendous mismatch between demand for care and ability to provide it,” Foote said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon.

Foote said that when Helman became the director of the Phoenix VA in 2013, the hospital had roughly 7,000 patients on wait lists.

According to Foote, the hospital artificially reduced its backlog by printing out requests for appointments on a paper list, rather than the computer system.

Patients were only entered into the official system when their appointment was scheduled, giving the appearance of wait times as short as two weeks when in reality some of those patients were waiting five to six months—sometimes a year—for treatment.

Minutes taken from a 2013 United Arizona Veterans meeting show that Helman “reported that new veteran patients are being seen in 25 days instead of one year.”

Minutes from director staff meetings also show hospital leadership reporting dramatic reductions in wait times.

After the scandal broke, Helman denied any knowledge of the practice, despite evidence provided by whistleblowers that hospital leadership was well aware of it.

As reported by the Free Beacon, Helman received a $9,345 bonus in 2013, in addition to her annual base salary of $169,900. Overall, leadership at the hospital was paid more than $700,000 in taxpayer money, according to publicly available salary data.

“She got that damn bonus for getting return times down when we had thousands of patients waiting to be treated,” said Foote, who retired in December.

The hospital is now facing investigations from Congress and the VA Inspector General.

• CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is ciaramella@freebeacon.com.

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