ALTOONA, Pa. — Some schedulers at a central Pennsylvania Veterans Affairs facility say they falsified scheduling information, even though an audit gave the facility good marks for service.
That congressional audit information released last week shows nearly one-fourth of the 118 schedulers at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center told auditors they were told to falsify scheduling dates for veterans' medical appointments, the Altoona Mirror reported Sunday.
The Department of Veterans Affairs in June claimed the center had a 99 percent rate of scheduling veterans within 30 days of requested medical services. The medical center has since said the rate was about 96 percent.
The audit report released last week "gives us a preliminary look at what some of the concerns were when the auditors visited Altoona in May," the medical center said in a statement. Since then, the medical center's leadership has been reviewing how appointments are scheduled.
The Altoona medical center, about 85 miles east of Pittsburgh, is one of roughly 100 VA centers where auditors found scheduling problems in the wake of a national scandal in which veterans at some other centers around the country waited months for medical appointments, only to have the VA centers falsify records to cover it up.
Dr. John Reinhardt, an Army veteran with a practice in Altoona, said he believes the Van Zandt center does a good job, but said he's not surprised by the audit findings.
"They have to make the numbers look good," Reinhardt said of the falsified wait times.
"It's a very different world than what your or I operate in. The VA system lives and dies on levels of bureaucracy," Reinhardt said.