U.S. Rep. Tim Walz on Monday requested a meeting with top Department of Veterans Affairs officials from Minneapolis and St. Cloud after a watchdog report criticized how the VA hospitals told several patients about their cases and scheduling.
A report from the VA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) released Monday looked at concerns at the two VA hospitals and the Vet Center in New Brighton, focusing on mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments and scheduling.
The issue was how some patients were informed about pending changes in a non-VA provider of mental health services for veterans with PTSD. The investigation looked at whether patients were notified by letter rather than in person about the changes, and whether alternative treatments were made available.
In its report, the Inspector General, the watchdog arm of the agency, recommended that both the Minneapolis and St. Cloud VA hospitals tighten their notification processes and determine whether patient preferences for further treatment were taken into account. It also recommended that the New Brighton Vet Center reconnect with affected veterans to make sure they were offered alternative care.
In written responses, both VA hospitals and the Vet Center said they had either already made the changes recommended or were in the process of doing so.
Walz, D-Minn., the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, asked for the probe in 2014. He called the substantiated allegations in the report "concerning."
"The care and treatment of our veterans must be the VA's number one priority, especially when it comes to mental health care. That's why the substantiations outlined in the OIG's report today are so concerning," Walz said in a statement.