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Phoenix VA Evaluation

Dear Friend,

The VA crisis began at the Phoenix VA Health Care System when whistleblowers revealed in April 2014 that Arizona veterans were placed on secret lists and had to wait months before seeing a doctor. We immediately got to work, yet over three years later, there are still more serious needs we want to address to provide our veterans with access to the timely, high quality care they deserve.

From discussions with veterans and VA employees, it became clear that the Human Resources (HR) department at the Phoenix VA was causing systemic problems. Due to poor management and lack of operational capability, the HR department failed veterans and dedicated VA employees. In September 2015, we wrote to the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) requesting a VA OIG team evaluate the operations, adherence to guidance and regulations, and effectiveness of the HR department at the Phoenix VA. The team specifically evaluated the hiring and management of the Phoenix VA’s Medical Support Assistant (MSA) workforce who are responsible for veterans’ access to outpatient care. For the full report, click here.

The investigation found shocking and unacceptable practices. The Phoenix VA could not account for the number or location of almost 60% of employed outpatient MSAs. It also found that the MSA attrition rate at the Phoenix VA was the highest in the nation for 2012 through 2016. It took far too long to hire needed MSAs and new MSAs did not provide new hires with the support and oversight necessary to be successful.

The VA OIG provided six recommendations to the Phoenix VA, all of which have been put in place. Over the past year, the Phoenix VA has implemented these recommendations and is following best practices for hiring, training, and management of MSAs improving the delivery of care to Arizona veterans. While the evaluation we requested has improved the Phoenix VA, more work remains. Arizona veterans deserve a VA health care system that delivers the best possible care. I will continue to work with veterans, health providers, and the VA until this is a reality. 

I am honored to serve in Congress on behalf of Arizona families like yours. We always appreciate hearing from you on current topics and issues that are important to you. If there is an issue that concerns you, please let us know by clicking this link or by calling our Phoenix office: 602-956-2285. Be sure to stay connected through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and let us know how we can be of service.

Sincerely,

Kyrsten

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