OKC VA executives detail center's record amid national scandal
By Keaton Fox
Dozens of VA hospitals are under investigation across the country for cooking the books when it comes to wait times, so where does Oklahoma City stand?Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday after publicly apologizing for systemic problems plaguing the agency's health care system. Shinseki had been facing mounting calls to step down from lawmakers in both parties since a scathing internal report out Wednesday found broad and deep-seated problems in the sprawling health care system, which provides medical care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.Treatment delays and irregularities in recording patient waiting times have been documented in numerous reports from government and outside organizations for years and have been well-known to VA officials. So are Oklahoma's veterans facing similar problems?As light is now shining into practices at area VA hospitals, Oklahoma City says bring it on.The hospital says it has a stellar record and in its last audit, found little or no problems.According to hospital statistics, of the 57,000 vets it serves, the average wait time for new patients is 9 days. 91 percent of patients are seen within 14 days.Daniel Marsh is the Medical Center Director for Oklahoma City's VA hospital."What everyone is focused on is the ability of patients to access our system," Marsh said. "I can tell you here at Oklahoma City VA Health Care System, that's not the case."Marsh says he's proud to lead a hospital that knows its strengths and weaknesses. He says his staff work here because they want to."If we have issues, we deal with it, and we correct those. But the staff here are very proud to take care of veterans many of our staff, in fact, like myself, are veterans," Marsh said."The VA center here is not facing anything like the problems we see nationwide," said Lt. Col. Steve Russell.Fox 25 military analyst Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell says Oklahoma's hospital is in good shape, but says VA problems are systemic."We don't need more bureaucracy or more money, we're serving less veterans today than we did a decade ago," Russell said.For now, it's blue skies in Oklahoma City, among a major storm nationwide.For veterans who have questions or may need help, call toll-free 866-835-5273 or 456-5774.
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