Doctor: Phoenix VA Ignores Mandate to Prioritize Iraq, Afghanist - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Doctor: Phoenix VA Ignores Mandate to Prioritize Iraq, Afghanistan Vets

Posted: Updated:

Phoenix (CNN) -- Some veterans injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are being made to wait for months in the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System despite a national mandate they be given priority access to medical care, a VA doctor told CNN.

Dr. Katherine Mitchell, medical director of the Phoenix VA's post-deployment clinic, outlined the allegations in a report that aired Wednesday night on CNN's "AC 360°."

She accused the Phoenix VA -- up until at least three weeks ago -- of not following a mandate that the highest priority be given to new or injured veterans for scheduling appointments.

Wait lists in Phoenix for veterans injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan can be "six months, nine months or longer," Mitchell said.

"People that are 100% service-connected that are polytrauma were waiting anywhere from six to 10 months to get into a new appointment when I found out about 'em," she said.

"We're talking about people that were injured by being blown up by IEDs. We're talking about people who had a mental breakdown and have severe PTSD and ...are having trouble functioning."

Mitchell told CNN that in some instances because of those wait times, case managers in her clinic and patient advocates ask: "This guy can't wait. Can you see him?"

The doctor said she reported the alleged practice to the VA's Office of the Inspector General.

The VA did not directly respond to Mitchell's allegations, referring CNN instead to the testimony of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki before a Senate committee looking into the allegations: "It is important to allow OIG's independent and objective review to proceed until completion, and OIG has advised VA against providing information that could potentially compromise their ongoing review."

Mitchell's claims are the latest in a rapidly unfolding scandal amid allegations of scheduling tricks and secret lists to hide monthslong waits for care. These accusations have mushroomed since CNN first reported the problem in November in an investigation examining several VA hospitals.

The most disturbing problems emerged at the Phoenix VA, with sources revealing details of a secret waiting list. According to the sources, at least 40 American veterans died while waiting for care at the VA there. The allegations have been followed by news of investigations at more than two dozen facilities across the nation.

The problem, according to Mitchell, has to do with the VA not having enough medical providers to care for veterans.

There are a few reasons for this, she said: low pay, lack of qualified professionals applying to work at the VA and a slow hiring process.

"As a result, you've got a lot of patients and not enough providers," she said. "It's not just Phoenix VA. It's across the country, which is why everyone is hiding a backlog."

Mitchell's allegations came the same day President Barack Obama vowed to hold accountable anyone who manipulated or falsified records at VA facilities. He also said he was sending his deputy chief of staff, Rob Nabors, to visit the Phoenix facility and interview the VA office's interim director.

Mitchell said she has not dealt with a veteran patient who subsequently died, but she said she was aware of a disturbing trend of suicides.

"These guys who committed suicide, who were successful suicide completions, would have benefited from more intense mental health treatment," she said. "And those appointments weren't available."

  • Latest NewsMore>>

  • Preseason Amway Coaches Poll: Florida State is No. 1, Baylor No. 10

    Preseason Amway Coaches Poll: Florida State is No. 1, Baylor No. 10

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:10 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:10:34 GMT
    (USA TODAY) -- The Florida State Seminoles will start this season exactly where they ended the last one: No. 1.The reigning national champions were an overwhelming No. 1 with 56 of 62 first-place votes in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released Thursday."We're very excited about being No. 1 and happy to be No. 1, but we understand that we have to play like No. 1 and play great football," Fisher told USA TODAY Sports. "That's going to be our objective. We're proud to start there and now we ...More >>
    (USA TODAY) -- The Florida State Seminoles will start this season exactly where they ended the last one: No. 1.The reigning national champions were an overwhelming No. 1 with 56 of 62 first-place votes in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released Thursday."We're very excited about being No. 1 and happy to be No. 1, but we understand that we have to play like No. 1 and play great football," Fisher told USA TODAY Sports. "That's going to be our objective. We're proud to start there and now we ...More >>
  • Waco Man Shot By Brother

    Waco Man Shot By Brother

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:01 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:01:17 GMT
    A Waco man was taken to the hospital after police say that he was shot by his brother.At 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Waco officers responded to a shooting in the 400 block of Rice.Officers found a man with injuries underneath the Herring Street bridge just a few blocks from the scene.After an investigation, police found that he had been hit at the home in the 400 block of Rice by pellets from a shotgun.Police were told that the man was at the house causing problems, so his brother fired...More >>
    A Waco man was taken to the hospital after police say that he was shot by his brother.At 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Waco officers responded to a shooting in the 400 block of Rice.Officers found a man with injuries underneath the Herring Street bridge just a few blocks from the scene.After an investigation, police found that he had been hit at the home in the 400 block of Rice by pellets from a shotgun.Police were told that the man was at the house causing problems, so his brother fired...More >>
  • Police: Toddler Dies After Getting Trapped in Hot Car

    Police: Toddler Dies After Getting Trapped in Hot Car

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:58 AM EDT2014-07-31 15:58:42 GMT
    A 3-year-old boy in Southern California died Wednesday after he climbed into an unlocked car on a hot summer's day and was trapped, police said.The toddler was playing alone in the front yard of his house in Sylmar while his parents were home when he got into the car and couldn't get out, said Officer Bruce Borihanh with the Los Angeles Police Department.Police told CNN affiliate KABC that the boy's father woke up from a nap and found the boy unresponsive. It was unclear how long the...More >>
    A 3-year-old boy in Southern California died Wednesday after he climbed into an unlocked car on a hot summer's day and was trapped, police said.The toddler was playing alone in the front yard of his house in Sylmar while his parents were home when he got into the car and couldn't get out, said Officer Bruce Borihanh with the Los Angeles Police Department.Police told CNN affiliate KABC that the boy's father woke up from a nap and found the boy unresponsive. It was unclear how long the...More >>
Click for Local Doppler Radar
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KCEN. All Rights Reserved. Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights, and Ad Choices.