As preliminary audit findings of all Veterans Affairs facilities are expected to be given to President Obama next week, Connecticut's congressional delegation is calling for the release of details on the operations of the eight VA facilities in Connecticut.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has said his department would conduct “face to face” audits of all VA medical facilities, including those in Connecticut, following reports of falsified wait lists and widespread treatment delays at VA medical facilities, including allegations up to 40 veterans may have died while waiting for treatment in Phoenix, AZ.
In their letter Friday to Secretary Shinseki, the Connecticut congressional delegation requested full details of those audits, including reports regarding the accuracy and duration of reported wait times for all appointments at Connecticut facilities, including the West Haven Campus, Newington Campus and all six Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Danbury, New London, Stamford, Waterbury, Willimantic and Winsted.
“After startling allegations regarding delayed care and falsified records at VA facilities made earlier this month, it is of utmost importance that the people’s faith in the VA, including our local VA hospitals, be restored,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4). “I urge Secretary Shinseki to share the findings of Connecticut clinics’ audits as soon as possible so that we can be sure our state’s veterans are receiving the timely care they deserve and have earned.”
Connecticut's senior Senator, Richard Blumenthal of Greenwich, said in a statement, “The more I learn of misconduct and impropriety at VA facilities around the country involving falsified wait lists and widespread treatment delays potentially causing deaths and injuries , the more concerned and outraged I become." Blumenthal added, "These horrific and reprehensible claims merit a full, comprehensive investigation.”
Blumenthal also said, “While I am unaware of any similar allegations regarding such wrongdoing in Connecticut, a thorough audit of all facilities is warranted to restore public faith in the VA system and to ensure no other veterans are forced to endure the atrocious neglect and possible criminal wrongdoing alleged in Phoenix and elsewhere.”
"The recent reports of misconduct call for a full investigation of our VA facilities in order to ensure every veteran is getting the care they deserve," said U.S. Rep. John Larson. "I have been honored to meet with veterans over the past few weeks on this issue and know that as this investigation moves forward, results of these audits must be made available to both make sure the needs of our veteran community are being met and to help prevent any future mistreatment. I join the Connecticut Delegation in our commitment to the men and women who have fought for their nation and will be following this auditing process closely as we move forward."
“The VA scheduling controversy that has impacted medical centers nationally is deplorable, and must be addressed swiftly and effectively. When I met with Director Culliton last week, he assured me no significant problems have been found in Connecticut. He and his staff deserve credit for having their focus on patient care, just as it should be, and must be for our veterans throughout Connecticut and across our nation,” said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-3).
“What we’ve discovered across the country is very disturbing and needs to be addressed swiftly and effectively. I join my colleagues in the delegation in calling for full transparency regarding the accuracy and duration of reported wait times in our state. Our veterans have sacrificed so much serving our country, and they deserve the best treatment,” said Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5).
The full text of the May 23 letter is below:
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
We understand that you are conducting “face to face” audits of all Department of Veterans Affairs clinics and that you are due to report your preliminary findings directly to the President next week on the scope of allegations of misconduct at Veterans Affairs facilities.
Although we have spoken with officials in Connecticut who have assured us that no problems were found with wait times during a recent national level inspection, we believe all our state’s medical facilities must be included in the ongoing audit and the results be made public promptly. We respectfully request full details of this audit, and specifically all details regarding the accuracy and duration of reported wait times for appointments at the West Haven Campus, Newington Campus and all six Community Based Outpatient Clinics located in Connecticut. We urge you to provide both your preliminary findings and the final results to us as soon as they are completed.
This week the President proposed a plan to investigate the falsification of records for wait times at VA medical facilities and restore confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs. You must seize this moment of national focus on the needs of our veterans to immediately advance comprehensive medical care delivery reforms within the Veterans Health Administration. No further reports are needed to end the already documented and unacceptable practice of deceptive scheduling practices and misleading numbers on lengthy appointment wait times for veterans. Our veterans deserve the very best medical care our nation can provide, in quality and timeliness.
We share your commitment to provide the best possible care for all veterans and to take all necessary measure to restore confidence in the Veterans Health Administration.
We look forward to your response as soon as possible.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, United States Senator
CHRIS MURPHY, United States Senator
ROSA DELAURO, Member of Congress
JOHN LARSON, Member of Congress
JOE COURTNEY, Member of Congress
JIM HIMES, Member of Congress
ELIZABETH ESTY, Member of Congress