Whistleblower claims VA continued to cover up vets’ deaths despite media attention

posted at 9:36 am on June 24, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Pauline DeWenter, a scheduling clerk at the Phoenix VA hospital where secret waiting lists were first uncovered, recently told CNN’s Drew Griffin that the number of deaths that could be attributed to malpractice at the VA may be larger than what has already been reported. In a report broadcast on Monday, DeWenter alleged a cover-up at the VA which included unidentified administrators changing “deceased” notes on patient files in order to reduce the number of deaths attributed to her hospital.

DeWenter alleged that at least seven times since October, she has noticed that the details of veterans’ deaths “were physically altered, or written over, by someone else” and those vets were relisted as living.

“The alterations had even occurred in recent weeks, she said, in a deliberate attempt to try to hide just how many veterans died while waiting for care, by trying to pretend dead veterans remain alive,” CNN reported.

DeWenter says that the changes were made in order to hide the fact that some veterans died while waiting for care:

“I would say (it was done to) hide the fact. Because it is marked a death. And that death needs to be reported. So if you change that to, ‘entered in error’ or, my personal favorite, ‘no longer necessary,’ that makes the death go away. So the death would never be reported then.”

“Beginning early last year, DeWenter said she was also instructed to hide the crisis at the Phoenix VA medical center by concealing new requests for treatment,” CNN’s reporters revealed. “This was at a time when the VA was paying bonuses to senior staff whose facilities met the goals of providing care in a timely manner for veterans, typically within 14 days.”

But crippling bureaucracy and a lack of available medical professionals prevented that goal from being met. The solution was to create two lists; one that was accurate and another designed to show that the state-imposed goals were being met. “DeWenter, a scheduling clerk, was suddenly making life and death decisions,” CNN reported.

DeWenter said that VA Dr. Sam Foote told everything he knew about the VA scandal to the Office of the Inspector General in November, 2013. “We were waiting, and waiting, and waiting,” DeWenter said. “Nothing happened.”

Foote then decided to go to the media with his revelations. Even the media’s scrutiny of the VA, however, has allegedly not stopped administrators from covering up VA failures.

On Monday, Griffin said that his investigations have convinced him that the VA needs to be entirely gutted and every senior manager let go.

“Based on everything I know, to date, I don’t think that the VA can fix itself,” the CNN reporter declared. “I don’t know how you fix this. I really don’t know, if I was going to give advice, where you would give it, other than I would blanketly throw out every senior manager in the VA.”

“There is an entire bureaucracy here that has been allowing this to happen for years, and years, and years,” Griffin concluded. “I don’t know how you get one administrator at the top who is going to somehow change the culture without throwing out all these people.”


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Fewer managers and levels of managers and more doctors and nurses, please. Speaking of doctors, does anyone believe a doctor would not know something was wrong if they only saw two patients a day? (I’m not talking brain surgery here)

dogsoldier on June 24, 2014 at 9:42 AM

DeWenter alleged a cover-up at the VA which included unidentified administrators changing “deceased” notes on patient files in order to reduce the number of deaths attributed to her hospital.

I’m guessing that, if true, this is a crime. Where is the DoJ?

Happy Nomad on June 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Government is the only thing we all do together.

gwelf on June 24, 2014 at 9:47 AM

And how soon are we to hear about hard drive crashes and lost emails from the VA. There are an awful lot of feral bureaucrat managers who need to do long stretches in prison.

rbj on June 24, 2014 at 9:47 AM

This is part of the White House-crafted cost savings plan that was implemented by obama. The time has come to arrest obama.

Pork-Chop on June 24, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Where is the criminal investigation?
Why aren’t Veteran Groups protesting at the White House and every event Obama and Biden attend?

albill on June 24, 2014 at 9:49 AM

My father’s offer to move to the back woods of Kentucky looks better and better with each passing scandal.

Mark Boabaca on June 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Fewer managers and levels of managers and more doctors and nurses, please. Speaking of doctors, does anyone believe a doctor would not know something was wrong if they only saw two patients a day? (I’m not talking brain surgery here)

dogsoldier on June 24, 2014 at 9:42 AM

It’s all fine to wish that, but the VA can’t get many Doctors to take jobs there. The Phoenix VA Hospital had 105 open Doctor announced vacancies when this story broke.

My Doctor here at the VA I use in Kentucky finished her four years of mandatory public service in rural areas and left. She got all of her Doctor School paid for by the VA by signing up for that program. The minute her four years were done, she was out of here.

Johnnyreb on June 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Pauline is toast but the VA management is safely tucked in.

docflash on June 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM

This administration is amazingly corrupt.
The IRS needs more money and the VA appears to be creating Democrat voters. Beyond sick.
All while The O sneaks out for another hamburger and a smoke.

ORconservative on June 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM

DeWenter says that the changes were made in order to hide the fact that some veterans died while waiting for care:

Actually, the changes were made so that the bonus money wasn’t put in jeopardy. The deaths of human beings were not as important as being rewarded. And there has been no effort of getting that money back.

Happy Nomad on June 24, 2014 at 9:58 AM

My Doctor here at the VA I use in Kentucky finished her four years of mandatory public service in rural areas and left. She got all of her Doctor School paid for by the VA by signing up for that program. The minute her four years were done, she was out of here.

Johnnyreb on June 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Do you blame her? I wouldn’t want to work for a health organization that kills people either.

Happy Nomad on June 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Cast another stone into the cesspool of criminality that I like to call the DOJ. My wish to see Holder frogmarched out of the job keeps me going.

BettyRuth on June 24, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Just remember that Barack Obama is outraged about this. Outraged, I tell you.

EA_MAN on June 24, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Johnnyreb on June 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

105! wow.

Happy Nomad on June 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM

The conditions, pay and bennies might have something to do with it.

dogsoldier on June 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Just remember that Barack Obama is outraged about this. Outraged, I tell you.

EA_MAN on June 24, 2014 at 10:06 AM

He became enraged after reading about it in the paper.

dogsoldier on June 24, 2014 at 10:09 AM

A friend of mine recently had a melanoma removed, after six months of VA dithering. And I’m sure they will dither on the skin graft as well. It makes me sick.

Sekhmet on June 24, 2014 at 10:13 AM

I’m guessing that, if true, this is a crime. Where is the DoJ?

Happy Nomad on June 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Ha ha ha. Where do you think? Busy ignoring the rule of law. If it ain’t racial (crimes or perceived crimes against blacks only please), tea party or “right-wing militia” -related, DoJ can’t be bothered

MistyLane on June 24, 2014 at 10:16 AM

So to sum up, the cover-up is still ongoing.

Folks in the bureaucracy at the VA are still attempting to cover up as the investigation is unfolding and despite the head of the VA being axed. I guess the message was not received.

At the same time we have dems trying to say that the IRS was not doing the same thing even though they have had years to do so.

Mind boggling.

airupthere on June 24, 2014 at 10:27 AM

He became enraged after reading about it in the paper.

dogsoldier on June 24, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Nobody is madder than Obama.

Happy Nomad on June 24, 2014 at 10:29 AM

I wonder if Cloward-Piven works in reverse?

I mean enough Lefty malice and incompetence and eventually people stop trusting the government and want less.

I’m guessing that, if true, this is a crime. Where is the DoJ?

Happy Nomad on June 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

The vets aren’t included in “my people”.

formwiz on June 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM

THROW THEM IN PRISON!

GarandFan on June 24, 2014 at 10:40 AM

“I don’t know how you get one administrator at the top who is going to somehow change the culture without throwing out all these people.”

Hopefully, this mindset will spread to include the need for changes at other agencies and large swaths of our current federal govt.

(I wish…)

cs89 on June 24, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Some how I stumbled on this interview last night on the TV. I have been a little skeptical of Inspector General reports since getting rid of one (illegally) was Obama’s almost first act as president but this was just horrible. I am sure that this lady and the doctor never considered that they would have to go to the media to get action.

Cindy Munford on June 24, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Even the media’s scrutiny of the VA, however, has allegedly not stopped administrators from covering up VA failures

…what scrutiny?

JugEarsButtHurt on June 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Good lord! Is there any so call leaders in this country with the guts to do anything? This poor sick Republic is gasping its last breath of air and is turning to rot.

rplat on June 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM

rplat on June 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I’ve been feeling sort of sad that Iraq doesn’t have a George Washington that cares about all her people, then I realized we don’t seem to have anyone either.

Cindy Munford on June 24, 2014 at 11:22 AM

“I don’t know how you get one administrator at the top who is going to somehow change the culture without throwing out all these people.”

You don’t just throw them out, you charge them with crimes, prosecute them, and put the guilty ones in prison. Not doing any of that just encourages more criminal acts because the perpetrators know there are no repercussions.

earlgrey on June 24, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Dead Vets kept alive on VA hospital records make for new Democrate voters in November. Just watch.

mechkiller_k on June 24, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Bonuses on the backs of the dead.

obama and the Left feed on carrion, always.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2014 at 12:27 PM

This my friends is to be expected… There is not one government run program that isn’t bankrupt and corrupt!

This is an early warning of what Obamacare is going to be like as soon as they can figure out how to corrupt the rules so they can milk more money out for bonus’ and benefits for themselves.

Why? You ask why I’m so negative on the government? Just going by their track record over the last 200 years.

Gov waste… “The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth, is a government program.” – Ronald Reagan

No one disputes that government programs can and do help people, but they are often overly expensive and wasteful. On occasion, the results of a government program are even disastrous, despite any good intentions on the part of those who support them.
In the United States, the trend has been the bigger the federal program, the greater the loss of liberty, the higher the pricetag, and the more disastrous the consequences.

The federal government cannot account for $24.5 billion spent in 2003.
 
A White House review of just a sample of the federal budget identified $90 billion spent on programs deemed that were either ineffective, marginally adequate, or operating under a flawed purpose or design.
 
The Congressional Budget Office published a “Budget Options” book identifying $140 billion in potential spending cuts.
 
The federal government spends $23 billion annually on special interest pork projects such as grants to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or funds to combat teenage “goth” culture in Blue Springs, Missouri.
 
Washington spends tens of billions of dollars on failed and outdated programs such as the Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Economic Development Association.
The federal government made $20 billion in overpayments in 2001.
 
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $3.3 billion in overpayments in 2001 accounted for over 10 percent of the department’s total budget.
 
Over one recent 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used government-funded credit cards to charge at least $102,400 for admission to entertainment events, $48,250 for gambling, $69,300 for cruises, and $73,950 for exotic dance clubs and prostitutes.
 
Examples of wasteful duplication include: 342 economic development programs; 130 programs serving the disabled; 130 programs serving at-risk youth; 90 early childhood development programs; 75 programs funding international education, cultural, and training exchange activities; and 72 federal programs dedicated to assuring safe water.
 
The Advanced Technology Program spends $150 million annually subsidizing private businesses, and 40% of this goes to Fortune 500 companies.
 
The Defense Department wasted $100 million on unused flight tickets, and never bothered to collect refunds even though the tickets were reimbursable.
 
The Conservation Reserve program pays farmers $2 billion annually to not farm their land.
 
Washington spends $60 billion annually on corporate welfare, versus $43 billion on homeland security.
 
The Department of Agriculture spends $12 billion to $30 billion annually on farm subsidies, the vast majority of which go to agribusinesses and farmers averaging $135,000 in annual income.
 
Massive farm subsidies also go to several members of Congress, and celebrity “hobby farmers” such as David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, Scottie Pippen, and former Enron CEO Ken Lay.
 
The Medicare program pays as much as eight times the cost that other federal agencies pay for the same drugs and medical supplies.
 
Congressional investigators were able to receive $55,000 in federal student loan funding for a fictional college they created to test the Department of Education.
 
The Army Corps of Engineers has been accused of illegally manipulating data to justify expensive but unnecessary public works projects.
 
Food stamp overpayments cost $600 million annually.
 
School lunch program abuse costs $120 million annually.
 
Veterans’ program overpayments cost $800 million annually.
 
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) overpayments cost $9 billion annually.
 
Better tracking of student loan recipients would save $1 billion annually.
 
Preventing states from using accounting tricks to secure additional Medicaid funds would save several billion dollars annually.
 
Medicare contractors owe the federal government $7 billion.

wartface on June 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM