CNN: Vets die on secret VA waiting list in Phoenix - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

CNN: Vets die on secret VA waiting list in Phoenix

(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A former doctor with the Phoenix VA system is outing an alleged secret list of patients kept by the hospital's top staff.

"The only record of anyone being there seeking care would be on that secret list, and they wouldn't take you off that secret list until you had an appointment time that was less than fourteen days," said Dr. Sam Foote on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Wednesday night.

That alleged secret list helped give the appearance of short wait times and efficiency at the Phoenix VA.

However, just last week when speaking to CBS5 reporter Donna Rossi, the director of the Phoenix VA denied any such list existed.

"I have never directed any of the staff to have any secret list. We have an official list," said director Sharon Helman.

Less than a week after that interview, though, CNN reporter Drew Griffin discovered otherwise. Here's an excerpt from the CNN report:

"CNN has obtained emails showing top management including Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman knew about the actual wait times, knew about the off the books list and defended its use to her staff."

Dr. Sam Foote was on staff with the Phoenix VA for 24 years before retiring. He tells CNN wait times of between six to nine months and as long as 21 months weren't uncommon.

"And if you die waiting for your appointment, you didn't exist?" asked CNN reporter Drew Griffin.

"That's correct," responded Foote. "They take you off that list, and there's no evidence you ever came to the VA and presented for care."

In the CBS5 interview, Helman denied allegations that any patients died waiting to see a doctor.

"We look at  those cases every day, and we have not found that they are linked to any delays in care," said Helman.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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