Sen. Kirk calls for Hines Veteran Hospital investigation

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014
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Sen. Kirk is calling for an investigation into reports of secret waiting lists for treatments at Hines Veteran Hospital.

MAYWOOD, Ill. (WLS) -- Senator Mark Kirk is calling for an investigation of the Hines Veteran Hospital in Maywood, Ill. There have been reports of a secret waiting list for treatment at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., A Hines employee says that facility also has a secret list

The allegations follow recent reports that patients at a VA hospital in Phoenix were denied treatment while staff kept them on secret waiting lists for months. The director of that Phoenix hospital, who is now on leave, was also the director at Hines Hospital when the practice of keeping secret wait lists is said to have started in 2011.

The secret lists cover up how long it really takes to get veterans the medical care they need. Social worker and union president Germaine Clarno says up to 20 hospital employees have come to her with these allegations, which started when the Veterans Administration established that appointments for veterans must be scheduled within two weeks.

"Their appointments are not within two weeks. It could be months down the road," Clarno said.

Clarno says the fraud is being perpetrated by management interested in skewing the numbers for their own benefit.

"It's for job promotion and I also think it's for bonuses," she said.

The hospital denies the accusations. In a statement Wednesday, Director Joan Ricard acknowledges having met with Clarno on May 8th to discuss the issue.

Through a statement, she said, "I am not aware of any occurrences of data manipulation here at Hines, past or present, and I have received no evidence or specific facts about data manipulations at the Hines VA."

"I would like a full and fair investigation by the inspector general of the VA to be completed," said Sen. Kirk on Wednesday, "going through the waiting of all Illinois veterans and all Illinois facilities."

Federal auditors were at the Hines VA Hospital Wednesday, but a hospital spokesperson says the visit is part of a nationwide access review that every VA medical center is undergoing and has nothing to do with the current allegations.