The woman who actually managed the Phoenix VA hospital's secret waiting list has come forward alleging that the facility has covered up the deaths of veterans who died awaiting care. In an interview with CNN, Pauline DeWenter says that in at least seven cases, someone else at the hospital had physically written over files detailing veterans' deaths, altering them to show that the veteran was instead alive. Some of these alterations were even made in recent weeks.
DeWenter says the facility got roughly 40 requests for new patients a day, and most went "into a desk drawer," on the secret list. It was up to DeWenter to make life-or-death decisions about which patients to push through, attempting to ensure that "the sickest of the sick were being treated." Her breaking point came when she called one family to schedule an appointment. "The family member said, 'You're too late sweetheart. He's dead. You guys killed him." DeWenter promised the family she'd do everything she could to prevent that happening again, and went to the Office of the Inspector General—but got no response. Which isn't completely surprising given yesterday's unbelievable report about the sluggish response from the VA's internal regulators. Click here for details. (Read more Department of Veterans Affairs stories.)