WFFT's Audra Streetman met with the Director of VA Hospitals here in Northern Indiana. She brings us an update on what this investigation means locally as well as what vets in our area have to say about care provided at the Fort Wayne VA Hospital.
As the VA scandal widens, veterans in Northeast Indiana are speaking out.
"I wanted to have a meeting with the doctor and I still haven't seen her and that was in March and this is May, I still haven't see her."
Valerie Stauffer served in the Marine Corps in the late 90's. In the last year, she says the Fort Wayne VA Hospital misdiagnosed her 3 times.
"I think that it's a matter of time that somebody's feet need to be held to the fire. Somebody needs to do something."
Reaction is mixed.
"It's been very very helpful to me. In all aspects of my life. In the area of housing care, mental health, it's been an enrichment to me."
David Lewis is a Vietnam-era vet who visits the VA Hospital for checkups.
"I've been to local hospitals. If I go to the emergency room, I'm there 2-3 hours. If I come here, I'm out in an hour."
Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki saying, "on behalf of nearly 500,000 Hoosier Veterans, we ask that you immediately verify whether any Indiana facilities within the VA Health Care System took similar actions to manipulate wait times and deceive veterans, Congress, and the public."
Denise Deitzen, Director of VA Hospitals in Northern Indiana, says her staff is working to improve care for veterans.
"Right now the patients are moving room to room. We want to work around the patient and right now our current space doesn't allow us to do that so these projects will help with that."
VA Hospitals in Fort Wayne and Marion are expanding their primary care. The first floor of the Fort Wayne hospital will soon feature an entire wing with 20 teams for basic checkups.
"If someone has more complex care needs they would need to go to Indianapolis or Marion."
At the Fort Wayne hospital, Deitzen plans to break ground on a new sterile processing center, renovate the same day surgery floor, and eventually open an ICU. The hospital is also opening an annex on Parkview Randalia's campus by the end of the year.
"My expectation is that we get patients in as soon as we can. There are some times areas where we have to wait."
Deitzen says she is in regular communication with the VA officials at the national level but since the start of the investigation, the Department of Veterans Affairs hasn't requested any changes to the electronic waiting list of care for Fort Wayne Veterans.
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