Local VA hospital to be audited for delayed health care investigation

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Local 2 Investigates has learned the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center will be audited as part of a nationwide investigation into delayed health care.

"We have learned we are one of about 200 hospitals that will be audited," said Dr. James Sheurich, deputy chief of staff.

Several veterans have contacted Local 2 in the past few days to voice concerns about the level of health care within the Houston VA hospital system since the national story broke.

"I would be dead, there is no question. If I would have waited I would be dead," said John Cariglio, a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Navy.

Cariglio said that he tried for weeks to secure an appointment with a cardiologist within the Houston VA Houston hospital system, but could not.

"I was not called back or they had wrong information. They finally told me to go to the emergency room," Cariglio said.

Cariglio said he did go to the DeBakey hospital emergency room, but gave up after a four hour wait.

He then saw a private sector doctor who ordered a quadruple bypass because of the seriousness of his heart condition.

Sheurich said that he is confident that the hospital and staff do a competent job at servicing the needs of area veterans.

"We go through specific training for access to care issues. When you see 1.1 million people per year, there will be some unhappy customers," Sheurich said.

The doctor said he did not know why DeBakey was selected for an audit, but surmised it is because of the size of the medical center.

"We are one of the busiest hospitals in the system," Sheurich said.

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