News


Audit requires further review at VA Palo Alto's Livermore facility

New audit sparks fresh concerns about delayed care, controversial practices at VA hospitals nationwide

On the heels of claims last week that the Palo Alto VA hospital maintains better-than-average wait times and care, an internal audit found issues related to scheduling practices at one of its inpatient facilities in Livermore.

Livermore is one of 81 sites nationwide whose practices the federal Department of Veterans Affairs determined needs further review after the audit, which was conducted through site visits May 12 through June 3.

One employee "raised concern" at the Livermore hospital, spokesman Michael Hill-Jackson said.

"We can only assume (because it was flagged) that it had to do with an inconsistent way of scheduling, but we are not sure what was actually said as these are being kept confidential," Hill-Jackson wrote in an email. "We have yet to get any further details on the situation or if it will actually warrant another site review. The next step is entirely up to the Office of Inspector General."

The audit focused on the front-line staff's understanding of proper scheduling processes as well as training, supervision and management practices and policies. Data was collected through in-person interviews and confidential questionnaires. A main question posed was: "What are the main barriers and challenges staff members face in offering veterans timely access to care? Do they feel personally capable of delivering high-quality service?"

A report lists both inadequate training of schedulers and inflexibility of a scheduling software system as "significant inhibitors" to keeping patients' wait times within the national metric of 14 days.

Hill-Jackson said that VA Palo Alto Health Care System leadership is reaching out to "all schedulers and supervisors to gain feedback from them on what issues they might be facing while scheduling patients. We are using this information to improve our training and make sure all clerks have a standardized way of scheduling patients to ensure consistency throughout the health care system."

Auditors visited the Palo Alto hospital on May 13 and Livermore on May 14, according to the report. Livermore was the only VA Palo Alto Health Care System facility found to require further review. The system consists of three inpatient facilities (Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Livermore) and seven outpatient clinics in San Jose, Fremont, Capitola, Monterey, Stockton, Modesto and Sonora.

VAPAHCS Director Lisa Freeman said in a statement Tuesday that the system is developing new scheduling training that will be implemented at all of its sites "in order to ensure that there is no confusion about our scheduling practices."

She also said that the organization has scheduled appointments for all patients on the system's New Enrollee Appointment Request (NEAR) list, which represents patients from within and outside the system's 10-county coverage area who have indicated they would like an appointment at a VAPAHCS site.

View the audit finding's report here.

Related content:

Palo Alto VA positions itself within national scandal

Comments

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm

The LA Times has managed to get the wait times for all the VA Health Care centers on-line:

Web Link

Palo Alto's is on the first page.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Palo Alto quietly gets new evening food truck market
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 3,200 views

On Tour - The Highly Selective Liberal Arts Colleges: Occidental, Pitzer, and Scripps
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,925 views

See Me. Hear Me. Donít Fix Me.
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,640 views

Foothills Park: a world away
By Sally Torbey | 9 comments | 1,493 views

Candidate Kickoff Events: Public, not just for supporters
By Douglas Moran | 6 comments | 883 views