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Spokane VA Flagged For "Further Review And Investigation" After Nationwide Audit

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SPOKANE, Wash - A report released from the Department of Veterans Affairs Monday showed the Spokane VA has been flagged for "futher review and investigation" based on last month's site audits. Spokane is one of 112 VA's across the country that have been flagged due to “undesired scheduling practices.”

Nationwide, 13% of schedulers who were interviewed admitted they had been told to enter incorrect dates into the scheduling system and 8% said they used alternatives to the official electronic wait list, adding that "pressures were placed on schedulers to utilize unofficial wait lists or engage in inappropriate practices in order to make waiting times appear more favorable."

The report did reveal some favorable numbers for the Spokane VA. The audit found that an impressive 97% of appointments were scheduled within 30 days. However, it also shows there are 232 veterans who have enrolled in the last 10 years who still haven't been scheduled, and nearly 1,600 veterans who are on the wait list just here in Spokane.

The average wait time for new patients in Spokane is 27 days for a mental health appointment, 28 days for primary care, and two months for specialty care.

The report also shows some employees across the country were reluctant to take part in the survey because they were afraid they would be disciplined for deviating from the national policy.

Bonuses for managers are being cut across the system while the investigation continues.

Spokane VA Medical Center Director Linda Reynolds told KHQ's Kelsey Watts:

"We are unaware of any details regarding the specific audit findings for our location, although we have been identified as one of 81 of the 216 total sites visited in the Phase One Access Audit that required further review. Our understanding is that the listing is a preliminary step, and further actions will be taken after the determination of the extent of the issues related to scheduling and access management practices.... Although we do not yet have information regarding specific findings at our location, we actively identified Veterans waiting for care and are accelerating actions to meet their needs either through increased appointments at the Medical Center or connecting veterans with care in the community."

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