VA employee says clinic in Jax understaffed

Published On: May 22 2014 03:37:15 PM EDT   Updated On: May 22 2014 08:02:30 PM EDT

VIDEO: Following the veterans health care scandal that's hitting the nation we talk to a local VA clinic employee about her workplace.


A woman who works at the Veterans Administration clinic in Jacksonville is blowing the whistle on her employer. 

Shawn Lee, a patient services assistant, said the clinic off Jefferson Street is understaffed, with no enrollment clerks working to enter in new veterans' information. Without them, veterans are experiencing delays and complications in their first interactions with the clinic.

"I'm seeing the hurt on the veterans' faces," Lee said. "They come up here and want to get their ID card and they can't because they are not in the system."

Lee, a veteran herself, thinks Jacksonville's military men and women deserve better. She says there haven't been enrollment clerks working at clinic for months, slowing down the enrollment process from the very start.

"Basically it's like signing up," Lee said. "You sign up to be seen in the system, we get your information and make sure your eligible. If you can't get them enrolled, you can't get them seen. That's where we are."

Lee said it has been this way for the past year, leaving other employees to the job of six people.

Channel 4 learned that 1,300-1,400 patients are treated daily in this clinic and a projected 12,000 more veterans are expected to need care this year than did last year.

Asked about the staffing problem, Veteran Administration spokesman Mary Hollingsworth said:

"Six enrollment positions are currently open, and the clinic is actively trying to get those positions filled with qualified employees. Patients are getting processed within 24 to 48 hours after they are scheduled, and urgent needs patients are treated immediately if necessary."

Veterans using the facility Thursday didn't express any frustration with Jacksonville's clinic, but instead with the veterans affairs scandal as a whole.

"Somebody let their guard down. Someone tried to get away with something. But you can't do that, not to a veteran," said Harold Osborn, a Vietnam veteran. "They served their country and they deserve to be treated well."

"If you go and serve your country, you should be treated fairly, and you should be seen in a reasonable length of time," said Roy Alford, who also served in Vietnam.


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