Phoenix VA Investigation Continues After Suspension Of Administrators

By Carrie Jung
Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 - 4:47pm
Updated: Friday, May 2, 2014 - 5:25pm
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The investigation into the Phoenix Veterans Affairs medical center continued Friday. The announcement that three officials have been placed on administrative leave is the latest development emerging from the probe.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced the suspension of medical system director Sharon Helman, and two others late Thursday afternoon.

In a written statement Helman said she respects the Secretary’s decision and is “fully supportive of any decision that ensures we have a thorough review.”

Retired Phoenix VA physician Dr. Sam Foote was one of the first whistleblowers to call attention to the allegations of fraudulent wait time records.

"I had patients saying I’ve been waiting three, six, nine months for an appointment at a time when the administration was bragging about how they got the waiting times down, and that half the people got seen in two weeks," he said. "And the numbers just didn’t add up."

Foote said he’s happy the Inspector General’s office is investigating, adding that there should be plenty of evidence to support the allegations.

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have requested regular updates from the VA’s Inspector General. McCain said he supports Shinseki’s decision.

"I do however want to say, they like all other citizens, have the right of innocence until proven guilty. But these allegations are of the utmost seriousness, and this action I think is called for," said McCain.

Officials with the Phoenix VA did not immediately return a request for comment.

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