The Kansas City VA Medical Center last year was found to have some of the problems that caused heads to roll in Washington and forced extensive changes in the network of hospitals and clinics that serve U.S. veterans.
Most seriously, more than three dozen patients here in need of cardiology treatment were found on an “unauthorized list” that forced them to wait too long for care.
The assertion of Kansas City VA officials that a single clerk was responsible for the problem seemed suspicious from the start. And the claim has become even more dubious now that the targeted employee, NaNette Chaney, is appealing her dismissal and seeking reinstatement at the medical center.
Chaney and her attorney have argued that the methods used to evade a 14-day window to schedule appointments were the same as those used in some other VA hospitals around the country. And they have produced emails and memos that show she received confusing and conflicting instructions on scheduling.
Appointments apparently were backed up when Chaney, a longtime VA employee with stellar performance evaluations, began work in late 2013 as an assistant in the Patient Aligned Care Team, serving cardiology patients.
Her story, as reported in The Star this week, is that she complained frequently about the scheduling problems, which made her a convenient scapegoat when the scandal broke.
Situations like this are usually complex and best sorted out by a judge, which is what is going on right now. And regardless of how Chaney’s case turns out, Kansas City’s VA Medical Center owes it to the public and patients to conduct an honest evaluation of what went wrong and how to prevent scheduling delays in the future.