University of Arizona student Julianne Stanford reports on her family’s personal experience with one of the VA hospitals at the core of the continuing healthcare scandal.

The Carl T. Hayden Veterans Affairs Medical Center is at the center of a national scandal surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs that has prompted widespread outrage and the resignation of top agency officials.

Accusations of wrongdoing “include gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct by VA senior hospital leadership, creating systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths,” according to a report released May 28 by the agency’s Office of Inspector General.

The hospital is also at the center of a family scandal. My father is a disabled Army veteran who has been receiving care – and dealing with administrative problems – there for decades.

While serving in the military during the late 1970s, my father became infected with the hepatitis C virus. This happened in an era when it was not standard practice for medical personnel to sterilize medical equipment or needles between mass treatment or immunizations of soldiers.

Since then, my father has twice undergone treatment at the Phoenix medical center, unsuccessfully in the early 1990s and then successfully in the early 2000s.

The problems with the medical center all stem from mismanagement and miscommunication, not the quality of medical care, my father said in an interview.

“For my service-connected condition, [the care is] pretty much excellent,” he said, noting “there were a few hiccups along the way, a thing or two that raises an eyebrow.”

The main cause of these hiccups came from problems with scheduling appointments, which a recent CNN investigative report traced back to duplicitous scheduling practices.

…In the course of his care at the Phoenix medical center, my father frequently experienced these scheduling problems, with a long history of cancelled or rescheduled appointments, especially if it was the first time he was seeing a new doctor or undergoing a new test.

“Trying to get a new appointment, trying to get something new scheduled, that can be difficult,” he said.

My father is annually tested for what are known as derivative health consequences following his decades-long infection with the virus, including screenings for liver cancer and monitoring for liver failure. Getting appointments to monitor these potentially serious conditions has proven problematic.

“Whenever I have to schedule an abdominal ultrasound, they always say ‘call and set an appointment a month ahead,’” he said. “Well, you almost never get anyone when you call X-ray. The phone rings off of the hook, or you finally get an answering machine, and I’ve never actually had anyone return my call.”

Sometimes, he says, he has to take matters into his own hands.

“I’ve found when you really need anything done at the VA you really just have to go there,” my father said…..