FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – President Obama has assigned his deputy chief of staff to oversee the investigation of 26 Veterans Affairs medical facilities nationwide. Those include the Northern Colorado and Wyoming veterans services centers.
After a bad fall, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Tom Mehan ended up in the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s emergency room. He told CBS4 he waited months for care.
“Some of my senses blanked out for a while, then came back a little; my taste, hearing, sight came back. I was thankful about that,” Mehan said.
Mehan says doctors ran some tests immediately, but for other procedures he had to wait.
“They told me I fainted after doing the tests they did and that took like three months to get the MRI scheduled,” Mehan said.
Federal auditors, healthcare inspectors and criminal investigators are looking into scheduling practices at the Fort Collins VA Outpatient Clinic and the Wyoming VA Medical Center, which oversees the Fort Collins clinic.
The investigators came to Fort Collins from the Federal Office of the Inspector General following allegations that staff instructed employees how to falsify records and make it appear that doctors saw patients within 14 days of the patient’s requested date, whether or not that was true.
“We’re beginning to see a pattern that seems to be emerging,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado.
Coffman suspects Colorado veterans may have died after waiting too long for appointments, just as reports show happened in Phoenix, Ariz.
A spokesman for the Cheyenne center issued a statement on the matter
“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,” it said in the statement.
“When you come in as an ER patient in a civilian hospital they just go through everything pretty quick, comparatively speaking,” Mehan said.
Mehan sees a gap between the quality of care given at veterans and non-veterans health centers. It’s a gap he hopes recent revelations help to close.