• Investigation reveals need for training, administrative changes at North Florida VA facilities

    By: Samantha Manning

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Veterans Affairs said it has made changes after an investigation revealed a need for administrative changes and staff training at some of the facilities in Northeast Florida.

    The investigation by the VA Office of the Inspector General did not find any evidence of intentional wrongdoing for the four main facilities serving the greater Jacksonville area.

    The VA OIG investigations stem from 2014 complaints regarding patient times.

    Petty Officer Chris Taylor served as a Navy Hospital coreman for 12 years and told Action News Jax he suffers from a traumatic brain injury.

    Taylor said he has been waiting for more than a year to see a neurologist at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Jacksonville.

    “You call them and they put you on hold and they say you’ll get a letter in the mail, and you just never get anything,” Taylor said.

    The investigation reveals the need for an administrative change at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Jacksonville when it comes to recording eyeglass prescriptions.

    A report also reveals a lack of training for staff at the VA Medical Center in Gainesville.

    The VA said they it has already implemented new training procedures there.

    An investigation at the VA Medical Center in Lake City showed there was no evidence of a secret wait list.

    An investigation at the St. Augustine Community Based Clinic found that an employee who used a paper waiting list did not violate any directives.

    The report said that employee kept the paper list because it held names of people wanting to joins ajoin a program that had not been created yet.

    The VA told Action News Jax they were it was pleased with the results of the investigation.

    "The reports show there was no intent to manipulate any appointment times, and it showed there were no delays in care,” North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System Director Thomas Wisnieski said.

    Army Specialist Michael Martinez said the VA has helped him get medical attention since returning from Iraq.

    "I found them to be very thorough and very fair,” Martinez said. “I feel blessed because I’ve been very fortunate.”

    Martinez said he has never had any problems getting service from the VA Outpatient Clinic in Jacksonville.

    "There were no hurdles,” Martinez said. “There was no waiting other than what I had to go as far as my appointments. I’m indebted to them. One day in the future if I’m fortunate enough to financially be in the right place, I want to donate other money back to them so they can help other veterans as well.”

    But veterans like Taylor said more changes need to be made to help those still stuck waiting for medical help.

    "To be out in the civilian world and be treated this way, I mean over a year is ridiculous,” Taylor said. “You get out and depend on the VA and it’s not there. It’s sad.”

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