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VA health-care woes: Shulkin must do better

| Friday, April 21, 2017, 8:57 p.m.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin addresses a House Veterans' Affairs Committee  hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Shulkin has pledged a top-down review at the D.C. VA medical center after an urgent watchdog report warned that patients were being put at risk due to poor inventory practices. (AP Photo)
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin addresses a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Shulkin has pledged a top-down review at the D.C. VA medical center after an urgent watchdog report warned that patients were being put at risk due to poor inventory practices. (AP Photo)

The Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Healthcare System's University Drive campus has more progress to make regarding patient wait times. Meanwhile, conditions at the VA's D.C. Medical Center are “so troubling that the agency's inspector general released a rare interim report,” according to The Washington Post. He “did not want to wait for (the full report's) completion to warn the public.”

In D.C., lack of supplies has halted dialysis and surgical operations, and sterile items have been left in dirty, cluttered rooms. “They have no inventory system,” IG Michael J. Missal told The Post. “They don't know what they have or what they are going to need.”

On University Drive, new VA data show the second-longest average wait times for return visits in February among Pennsylvania's 41 VA hospitals and clinics — eight days. New patients waited 22 days. Its group practice manager, noting that University Drive handles the state's most complex VA cases, says it offers same-day appointments for urgent needs and has made other improvements since long VA wait times made headlines nationally in 2014.

Still, University Drive can and must do better. So must the D.C. facility. Thankfully, its director already has been replaced. Now, Dr. David Shulkin, President Trump's new VA secretary, must meet that challenge here, there and nationwide.

Those who sacrificed to serve America deserve nothing less than the best care the VA can provide — which it too often has failed to deliver.

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