Despite assurances to the contrary, the VA hospital in Wichita kept a secret waiting list for patients. The hospital's director revealed that information Friday in a message to Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran.
Roberts told the Wichita Eagle he was not happy to see that message just hours after he’d met with officials of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center, who assured him the hospital was doing just fine. But one patient of the Wichita VA facility says the news is no surprise.
Mary, who would only give her first name, was reached at an American Legion post in south Wichita. She says she needs monthly testing to make sure her medicines aren’t damaging her liver, but she can only get in to see her primary care provider once a year.
“We get aggravated. We get upset. Our spouses, they lose their temper because they see how we’re being treated—and it’s not right," she says.
Mary thinks it’s time for a house cleaning at the VA.
“Not just at top levels, but everywhere. And if the people don’t want to do their job, then take ‘em out," she says. "Get people in there that will do their jobs, and take care of the veterans, and put our needs before their paychecks.”
The VA’s Inspector General says there were 10 unauthorized waiting lists in the VA’s Heartland Network, which includes Kansas. Two of those lists — including the one in Wichita — had placed veterans, like Mary, at risk.
Bryan Thompson is a reporter for Kansas Public Radio.