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Unrelenting focus on inadequacies at Phoenix VA facility

An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report stating that administrators at the Phoenix VA Health Care System's urology clinic didn't have a plan to deal with understaffing and inadequate care for veterans is incorrect, says a former doctor at the facility.

They did indeed have a plan, responds Sam Foote, a retired physician who blew the whistle on a number of facility shortcomings many months ago. Foote says that the plan was "to not spend a dime on fee-based care."

Complaints from Foote and others resulted in withering scrutiny being placed on the hospital and its urology clinic by state and national legislators and federal investigative agencies.

And, even following scathing condemnations and the firing of the facility ex-director, criticisms continue to pile up.

Here's one that appears in a federal report: Even after aberrational care at the facility was noted and a national scandal ensued, about 45 percent of patients with urinary-tract and related issues received tardy care -- and sometimes no care -- over the next two years. Reportedly, appointments for hundreds of veterans needing medical assistance were simply canceled without any notice.

Backlogs in the urology clinic became an overwhelming problem from 2013, when, as noted in an article discussing the appalling lack and quality of medical care administered to veterans, "the entire urology staff … quit or went on leave."

The adverse effects were immediately felt across a huge patient pool. The OIG report states that nearly 1,500 patients "experienced significant delays" in receiving care. Some died.

The inspector general says that a number of recommendations have been issued to facility administrators, and they seem to have gained traction. The report notes that "acceptable improvement plans" have been implemented.

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