Ex-Phoenix VA employee: 'Everyone knew about secret list'
Troy Burmesch (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Yet another former employee of the Phoenix VA is coming forward to confirm there was indeed a secret patient list.
Troy Burmesch said whistleblower Dr. Sam Foote is telling the truth and administrators are lying to save face.
He said the secret list might have been a secret to the Veteran's Administration, but everyone on the Phoenix campus knew about it.
Burmesch, who worked as a medical support assistant from November 2012 to September 2013, said most support staff just didn't know exactly how the list was being used.
"I kept asking," he said. "Why are we having patients come in here, print their page, write on the back of it, put it in a folder, folder gets collected, then it gets put in a stack of paper, then somebody else goes through it, then they finally schedule the appointment? Why don't we just put them in the electronic wait list? It makes no sense."
Burmesch said he never got an answer.
But he said the so-called secret list was standard protocol.
"We used it every day," Burmesch said. "It existed. There's no way somebody can say ‘no it didn't' or 'I didn't know about it.'"
He said patients weren't entered into the electronic wait list until an appointment became available within two weeks.
Burmesch said sometimes that took more than a year.
"It's a few bad people and they give the entire VA a bad name," he said. "And now because they want to look good to DC or their supervisors or whatever the case may be, now we've lost the lives of 40 veterans because somebody wanted to have a good report. It's disgusting."
Burmesch, a 33-year-old veteran who served two combat tours in Iraq as a Marine, said the Phoenix VA is understaffed and underfunded, unable to truly meet its goals.
He said that is what should've been reported.
"Instead of fixing the books and turning in false reports, show the true numbers," Burmesch said. "That way, maybe somewhere up in Washington or higher up in the VA, we can get the support we need."
He said Brad Curry, the chief of Health Administration Services at the Phoenix VA who is now on administrative leave along with Director Sharon Helman and another employee, fired him last fall.
Burmesch said Curry told him he was being let go because he was taking too much leave related to his post-traumatic stress disorder.
He is now suing the VA for wrongful termination.
Burmesch, who's working toward degrees in social work and psychology, said he hopes to return to work for the Phoenix VA under new management.
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