- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - An internal investigation has found that a Veterans Affairs medical center in Leavenworth used unauthorized wait lists, but didn’t substantiate claims the lists were used to falsify wait times for veterans.

The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1J4E0hd ) reports that the Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s Office investigated falsified wait list claims following a Sept. 18, 2014 complaint. Their report was released Tuesday.

Inspectors say Leavenworth eye clinic scheduling staff-used wait lists that had not been approved by the VA. The report also says that staff members weren’t trained to use the VA-approved electronic wait lists.

The Veterans Health Administration, a component of the VA, doesn’t track wait times for cataract surgery so inspectors concluded the Leavenworth facility didn’t use unapproved lists to distort its wait times, as a complaint had claimed.

VA Heartland Network director William Patterson said in a statement that the list of cataract surgery patients was a checklist, not a wait list. Rudy Klopfer, director of the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, said the checklist was used by his staff because they were not provided with a comparable tracking mechanism for cataract surgeries.

“Please note this was not a wait list,” he said.

Klopfer said his staff has already followed the report’s recommendation to use only approved wait lists for scheduling cataract surgeries.

The report says that some issues at eye care clinics can be traced to a lack of leadership.

“Several staff we interviewed were unable to name their direct supervisor and were unclear regarding the chain of command,” the report found.

The report also criticized the local VA centers for “less than expected” productivity from their ophthalmologists.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents Leavenworth and Topeka in Congress, said her staff had received numerous complaints about wait times for eye care at the two VA medical centers.

“While recent progress appears to be occurring within our local VA’s culture, it is very disturbing to see that these problems continue to occur and are affecting our VAMCs back home,” Jenkins said.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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