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Kansas City VA hospital also had secret list affecting 37 veterans

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, June 6, 2014, at 6:52 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, June 6, 2014, at 6:55 a.m.

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The Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center – like the hospital in Wichita – also had a secret waiting list that compromised patient care, a U.S. senator announced Thursday.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he confirmed with hospital management that the Kansas City, Mo., facility was the second hospital referenced in a Friday fax from VA officials who confirmed that two hospitals in the VA’s Heartland Network had put veterans at risk by using unauthorized waiting lists.

The Kansas City facility serves veterans from both sides of the Kansas-Missouri line. In addition, it operates a satellite community clinic in Paola.

The secret waiting list in Kansas City affected 37 veterans who were patients of the facility’s cardiology clinic, according to Blunt’s office. It’s about a tenth as many as in Wichita, where 385 veterans were on a secret list waiting for appointments.

At least 21 patients of the two hospitals waited more than 90 days to get medical appointments, but that number is expected to grow because it does not include the veterans who were on the unauthorized waiting lists.

Overall, an investigation found 10 unauthorized waiting lists in the Heartland Network. Eight of the secret waiting lists did not endanger patient care, according to the Friday fax VA officials sent to two senators.

The network oversees nine hospitals, 51 community clinics and a health center in a region spanning Kansas, Missouri and parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

The director of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita confirmed in his version of the fax that Wichita was one of the two sites that had put veterans at risk, but he did not identify the other one.

Blunt’s statement is the first official confirmation that the second site is Kansas City.

The inquiries into the VA Wichita hospital are part of a growing scandal over veterans’ medical care that began at the Phoenix VA medical center and has expanded to other regions across the country.

In Phoenix, 1,700 veterans were on secret waiting lists and another 1,400 had to wait 90 days or more for appointments with primary care doctors.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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