Share This Page

3 Phoenix VA officials on leave amid claims of secret wait lists

| Thursday, May 1, 2014, 8:54 p.m.

PHOENIX — Three executives of the veterans hospital in Phoenix have been placed on administrative leave amid an investigation into allegations of corruption and unnecessary deaths at the facility, officials announced on Thursday.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said Phoenix VA Health Care System Director Sharon Helman and associate director Lance Robinson would be placed on leave “until further notice.” The third employee was not identified in a statement Shinseki issued from Washington.

The Phoenix facility has been under fire in recent weeks over allegations that as many as 40 patients may have died because of delays in care, and to hide delays in treatment, the hospital kept a secret list of patients waiting for appointments.

Before the announcement that she would be placed on leave, Helman and the hospital's chief of staff denied any knowledge of a secret list and said they had found no evidence of patient deaths because of delayed care.

“We take those allegations very seriously,” Helman told The Associated Press, noting she welcomed an independent review by the VA Office of Inspector General. Helman's office declined comment after the announcement about leave.

The claims are the latest to come to light as VA hospitals around the country struggle to handle the huge volume of patients who need medical attention, including aging vets from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and an influx from wars during the last decade. In the past year, VA facilities in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Washington state have been linked to delays in patient care or poor oversight.

Shinseki said the move to put the Phoenix officials on leave was requested by the inspector general's office, which sent investigators to the facility.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.