Cathedral Henderson, is the latest in a line of officials to be accused of VA hospital mismanagement. Mr. Henderson, 50, who worked at the Charlie Norwood Veteran Affairs Medical Center, appeared in United States District Court on Friday, and was released on a $15,000.00 bond. Henderson, was a supervisor of the revenue department and was in charge of what is referred to as Non-VA Care Coordination, a program that is supposed to aide and coordinate medical care for Veterans, who may not have easy access to VA facilities in their area.
A memorandum was issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs, after scandals of long wait times for Veterans was made public. The memo insisted that facilities clear up all pending cases of people who were waiting to get approved for outside treatment. Mr. Henderson allegedly asked employees to falsify the results of those waiting to show that the cases had been closed. There were approximately 2,700 Veterans who were waiting for outside treatment in Augusta, that the VA could not provide. The claims that Mr. Henderson has been indicted for were 45 women who were waiting for mammograms, some for imaging, one for surgery, and one for neurology.
Sadly, issues with scheduling patients is not a new problem to the Augusta area. The VAMC in Augusta was flagged as early as 2011, when other cases regarding over 4,500 endoscopy examinations were not given or delayed, and some of which resulted in death.
Once again, this is a good example of how merely throwing money at a problem is not a solution, when greed and power are corrupting the system. In a system, where there is little transparency, lack of facilities, and a shortage of health care providers, and where bonuses are tied to performance and efficient scheduling, supervisors, and employees alike succumb to the pressure. People are to lead by example, and it appears the hierarchy and leadership is perhaps where the problems begin.
In this case, Mr. Henderson’s attorney is quoted as saying, “He was following directives of his supervisors, and that will come out of court documents.” Regardless of whether or not this is true, Mr. Henderson, just like all of the other employees who have been part of these scandalous cover-ups are still accountable for their own actions, and have proven that their integrity is lacking and that the bottom line for them, is not caring for Veterans, but for themselves. Ironically, Mr. Henderson is on paid leave during this investigation, this in a time when the VA is already billions of dollars in deficit.
Our Veterans are paying the price for these unjust actions by employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. And sometimes that price is with their lives. These people who have made the ultimate sacrifice, who suffer from diseases, mental illness, and other conditions, are relying on their leaders to have their best interest at heart, and throwing money at the problem is not working. The men and women who have fought for the country deserve better than this. Let’s hope that the crimes committed will bring awareness to the problem and create a better form of action in terms of a solution.