PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — President Obama summoned Eric Shineski, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to the Oval Office to discuss the growing scandal inside the department’s medical system.
“I want to know the full scope of this problem,” President Obama said.
As many as 40 veterans may have died at the VA medical center in Phoenix because of delayed treatment.
Now, VA investigators are looking at 26 other facilities, including at least one here in Pennsylvania.
Whistleblowers claim some hospitals kept secret waiting lists to hide how long veterans were waiting for care.
“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it. Period,” President Obama said.
Here in Pittsburgh, the VA was taken to task last year for similar secrecy and an alleged cover-up.
“In Pittsburgh, VA officials knew they had a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak on their hands, but they kept it secret for more than a year,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Internal emails released by the House Veterans Committee suggested that more than a year before the VA went public; the top physician suspected a problem with legionella in the water supply and recommended that everyone use bottled water.
Yet, no patients were alerted about water concerns for that entire year. Ultimately, at least 22 were infected and six died.
This latest scandal has given rise to cries for Shinseki’s resignation, but the former general is staying on the job.
Meanwhile, President Obama has assigned his Deputy Chief-of-Staff Rob Nabors to oversee the VA’s investigation.
“I want to what’s working, I want to know what is not working and I want specific recommendations on how the VA can up their game,” President Obama said.