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Nationwide scandal of VA healthcare facilities broadens
A nationwide scandal at VA hospitals has put all of them, including Eglin, under the microscope.
And as more information is released, more people are coming forward with their stories of mistreatment.
Frank Fraboni shares another veterans disturbing story.
Calliner Weathersby believes her husband, a retired veteran, is an example of what's wrong at VA hospitals.
Calliner Weathersby says: "I was shocked to see it come out."
She says she tried to convince the Asheville VA her husband needed to see a local specialist for colon cancer. But was instead sent to the VA in Durham.
"I begged them to fee base him to Mission Hospital. It doesn't make sense to send somebody 200 miles away and he got to come home in pain."
He got his surgery after a two month delay but the cancer had spread.
"And so now, he's in the advanced stage of cancer."
Dr. Carl Bazemore by law can't talk about her specific case but says Fee based local care is allowed in certain cases..
"We're very responsive to any of our patients, needs, concerns, questions or complaints and I think we all take their care very personal here."
"And we just had excellent results."
The hospital's medical director says the federal scheduling audit shows the Asheville VA had some of the shortest wait times in the country, while experiencing the fastest patient growth.
"The team and their execs said we were a benchmark for the way that we handled our scheduling processes and we received a very high ranking."
But the national audit did find problems systemwide including 13 percent of scheduling staff interviewed said they were instructed to enter a date different than what the veteran had requested. 8 % used something other than the official electronic wait list and in some cases were pressured into using unofficial lists or engage in inappropriate practices. And a 14 day wait time performance target, an incentive for leadership was not attainable..
"Even our community partners would share with you that it's very difficult to get all patients scheduled within that time line."
The acting secretary of Veteran Affairs ordered that target removed immediately from all performance contracts... To eliminate any willful misconduct. But none of the findings will change what Calliner believes.
"Everybody can sugar coat something."
But here's some good news.
The thousands of military veterans who've been on those wait lists could soon get some help from congress.
The senate is set to vote tomorrow (Thursday) on a measure that would make it easier for those vets to get treatment from local doctors if they can't get help quickly at the VA.
The measure is similar to a bill the House approved on Tuesday.
Lawmakers are optimistic a compromise version could soon be on it's way to the president's desk.