Findings from an internal investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs’ crisis services revealed significant gaps in quality assurance, lack of a proper structure to collect, analyze and back up data, as well as pervasive waste and inefficiency plaguing one of the agency’s centers in upstate New York.
The findings — released in a document in mid-February — were compiled by the VA’s compliance and regulatory arm in response to caller complaints about the quality of Veterans Crisis Line, or VCL, services. A key accusation centered on some calls to the suicide hotline going unanswered, before being redirected to backup centers and then to voicemail. Making matters worse, staffers report being unaware of the existence of a voice mail system. Other findings focused on staffers answering calls who were not properly trained in how to respond, and an instance in which an ambulance, called to assist a veteran, took nearly three hours to arrive on scene.
The VA Office of Inspector General corroborated the first two out of the three findings, citing as the culprit the absence of a handbook to provide staffers guidance on VCL quality assurance and general procedures. Wait … what? No handbook?.....
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