By Jennifer Griffin, Fox News
The allegations of wait times, delayed care for veterans and cooked books began in Phoenix, but new revelations by two more Veterans Affairs whistleblowers in two different states suggest the VA problems are endemic.
“What really bothered me was that this delay was a direct result of this extremely low sense of caring for the patient,” said Dr. Jose Mathews, the chief psychiatrist for the VA Medical Center in St. Louis starting in Nov 2012.
Mathews and another whistleblower in Texas detailed their concerns to Fox News.
According to Mathews, he noticed that the doctors he oversaw who were responsible for seeing veterans with post-traumatic stress and other acute mental health issues were working just a few hours a day. They were seeing about half the patients they could, Mathews alleged in a federal whistleblower complaint filed last year. Meanwhile, there were mounting suicides among veterans being treated at his facility -- and officially, the St. Louis VA was reporting to its headquarters in Washington that its productivity was among the highest in the nation.
“They all got bonuses -- that's the sad part. Because in reality we were not really doing a good job, but it shows up on paper as if we are,” Mathews told Fox News.
When Mathews complained, he was removed from his job, assigned to an isolated office to oversee pensions and compensation. He was told not to contact the other doctors or patients.
“I think they have some form of moral blindness or something. They're not able to see that this is not right, what they're doing is not right,” said Mathews, a soft-spoken psychiatrist who says the veterans would have to wait a month or more for mental health treatment.
Spokesman Paul Sherbo, of the St. Louis VAMC, said in a written statement: “The St. Louis VA Medical Center leadership is aware of and is addressing the alleged issues. VA is committed to providing the best quality of care that all our nation's Veterans need and deserve."