A top White House official conducting a review of the troubled Veterans Affairs Department is scheduled to visit two Ohio facilities this week.
Rob Nabors is President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff. He is set to visit Cincinnati's VA Medical Center Thursday and the Columbus hospital Friday.
A VA spokeswoman says Nabors will meet with leaders at both hospitals and tour the facilities as he reviews veterans' access to health care.
Nabors also visited the Phoenix VA hospital on May 22 as part of his evaluation. He will provide a review of his findings to Obama and acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson later this month.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned last week amid a growing scandal over patient delays and allegations of falsified waiting lists at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.
The average wait time for a new patient at Cincinnati's VA facility is 29.3 days, according to USA Today. In Columbus, it's 23.4 days.
The VA recommends that patients be seen within a 14-day window. In Cincinnati, USA Today reported that 31 percent of new patients were seen within that time frame. The number was 29.5 percent in Columbus.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Cincinnati VA Medical Center has paid out more than $2 million in malpractice claims in the last 10 years. FOX19 asked the VA for their response to these allegations of malpractice. The agency said only $1.6 million has been paid out in lawsuits over the last 10 years.
While the VA said it cannot comment on specific cases, officials sent FOX19 this statement:
"Any adverse incident for a veteran within our care is one too many. When an incident occurs in our system we aggressively identify, correct and work to prevent additional risks. We conduct a thorough review to understand what happened, prevent similar incidents in the future, and share lessons learned across the system."
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Columbia Tusculum, said he's glad that the White House is taking time to personally send someone to tour the VA system in Cincinnati and Columbus.
"I hope that true reform is not abandoned after this issue recedes from the headlines," he said in a statement. "We have real structural and cultural problems facing the VA's ability to deliver care to veterans that need to be fixed and administrative visits aren't enough."
Wenstrup said Obama should call on the Senate to approve a House bill that would make it easier for the VA secretary to fire employees.
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