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Grijalva wants investigation into Tucson's VA

Posted at 6:41 PM, Feb 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 06:48:36-05
Congressman Raul Grijalva is now joining Senator John McCain in calling for a federal investigation into the Southern Arizona VA staff shortage and accused cover-ups.
 
Both lawmakers cite our KGUN9 investigation into excessive wait times for medical care, high turnover of doctors and claims of retaliation
 
Grijalva sent a letter Monday to the VA Secretary Robert McDonald asking him to determine the severity of problems reported in KGUN9's investigation.
 
He questioned whether the 2014 Combined Assessment Program Review was too small in scope to identify the problems.
 
It's been reported that Congressman Grijalva applauded the Southern Arizona VA back in June of 2014 after it passed a Veterans Administration audit.  
 
The audit report showed the SAVAHCS had wait times of less than 30 days and Grijalva called on other hospitals to follow the VA's lead because it's an example of quality care.
 
Grijalva requested an update on efforts being taken to retain quality providers at the VA.
 
KGUN's investigation revealed a high turnover rate of new doctors -- 80% left within 5 years -- and a handful of whistleblowers reported to us that many physicians left because they were overloaded and mistreated.
 
Ed Wagner of The Federation of Southern Arizona Veterans said for years he's reached out to the VA, the Office of Inspector General and the VA Secretary on behalf of VA staff and veterans. But he told KGUN9 that they're not speaking directly to the people who are doing the complaining so nothing has truly been done.
 
American Legion leaders throughout Arizona have been keeping a close eye on the crisis since the Phoenix VA scandal broke. "It's important the VA properly deal with those who are incompetent or corrupt," said Steve Aguirre, District 2 Commander of the American Legion. 
 
KGUN9's Valerie Cavazos asked Aguirre, "The national media as well as KGUN9 has asked the question can the VA investigate itself?" He answered, "That's a good question. I don't know."
 
The American Legion said it's working with Congress and urging the Senate to pass companion legislation of the VA Accountability Act of 2015 that would make it easier to fire any employee for incompetence or corruption. 
 
KGUN9 requested an interview with SAVAHCS's acting director on January 28th, but we have yet to hear back. KGUN9 obtained an internal email by two top administrators who wrote they are working diligently to evaluate the concerns raised in KGUN9's report.