Staff at 40 facilities in 19 states as well as Puerto Rico routinely “zeroed out” times for veterans, though times were often longer. For some facilities, the policy had been carried out as long as a decade.
The revelation comes less than two years after Phoenix Medical Center and others were found to have engaged in similar policies while veterans died for care.
A facility in Vermont was found by investigators to have rampant improprieties, yet the director of the facility is now the director of the Phoenix Medical Center where the scandal was first uncovered.
Despite scrutiny from investigators, some facilities still allowed the manipulation of records to happen as the demand from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans began to pile up.
The said it has disciplined 29 people, and three have left the agency. It has also retrained schedulers, updated its software, and begun a pilot program that allows veterans to schedule their own appointments.
However, the problem continues, according to employees.
“Until the decides it truly wants to change its corrupt and poor culture, those who work on the front lines and possess the true knowledge relating to the continued data manipulation will remain quiet and in hiding because of fear of workplace harassment and retaliation,” said Shea Wilkes, a social worker at the Medical Center in Shreveport, La. and co-director of a group of more than 40 whistle-blowers.