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VA Officials say Overton Brooks has no secret list - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

VA Officials say Overton Brooks has no secret list

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 For the first time since KTBS investigated a whistle blower's claims of manipulative practices at our VA hospital, Overton Brooks officials took our questions.  KTBS 3's Amy Vitrano was at the press conference and gives us a recap of what happened this afternoon.  

The VA officials' goal was to explain how the hospital works, describe the scheduling process, and try and dispel some what has been said in the media. 
First, top hospital officials denied there was a secret waiting list.  They also denied that there were any paper lists that were used to create the list of 2700 patients.  They explained that in addition to the official scheduling software, they used an excel spread sheet to place veterans into groups or teams of care providers.  They say this was all an attempt to be responsive to a federal directive from August 2013.  

    They say that the resulting process here created a list of 2700 veterans that still needed to be placed in a group.    According to today's presentation, 400 veterans are still waiting to be reviewed, contacted or assigned to a group.  They claim no patients have a waiting time longer than 90 days, across the entire hospital. 

    Officials also announced their scheduling practices received rave reviews from auditors this past spring, but there was room for improvement and a follow up audit would be performed.  When asked what they could improve on Dr. Patrick McGauly, chief of staff said, “they didn't specifically tell us anything detrimental, per se. They did say our clerks knew the process well. They recommended continuing education which we're doing. They didn't give us any indication on why there is a follow up.”

       But what about the emails from Senator David Vitter's office that we reported about on Tuesday of this week, saying that VA employees were ordered to stop scheduling these patients, resulting in "veterans who could have been seen in August now having a waiting time out to October."  When we asked interim director Toby Mathew, who has been at Overton Brooks a few weeks, about that claim of a five month wait time, he was not aware of the emails.      “I don't know the specific data that you're referring to, but we're meeting with Senator Vitter this week to clarify what that looks for at Overton Brooks. Clearly, there's data across the nation on various different areas throughout the VA system. I can tell you here at Overton Brooks, that is not the issue that we're challenged with.”  The VA wanted veterans to know they are providing same day walk in access for emergencies, including mental health, and are offering some extended hours and Saturday hours for working veterans.  If you are a veteran having trouble getting appointments, here is the link to the patient   advocates.  UPDATE: While KTBS does get calls from Veteran's happy with their care, as soon as this story aired, our phone rang, with a Veteran telling us that he has definitely been waiting longer than 90 days for his appointment.  
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