Veterans Affairs official moves to rebuild trust with Phoenix veterans

PHOENIX – Sloan Gibson, deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivered a message Thursday of change for veteran’s health care after months of roiling problems that reached from Arizona to around the country, including months-long wait times for medical treatment.

The Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, which will have its fifth administrator in two years, continues to face challenges, such as low number of staff and facilities, Gibson said.

He said wait times at the Phoenix hospital have improved since 2014, when massive problems with the system were exposed. About 95 percent of veterans are seen within 30 days of making their appointments, he said.

Clinics also have been built. Two years ago, a clinic opened in Gilbert in the southeast Valley, serving more than 20,000 veterans. Another clinic opened in Scottsdale about a year ago to provide primary and mental healthcare to more than 3,000 veterans.

Gibson praised Deborah Amdur, who retired as director after nine months on the job, according to azcentral.com. She is being replaced by Barbara Fallen, who will serve as interim director.

Since the VA scandal erupted in 2014, according to azcentral.com, four administrators at the medical center in Phoenix were suspended and eventually fired. Others retired, resigned or transferred.

Spokeswoman Jean M. Schaefer did not know how long it will take find a permanent director.

“We will not be rushed by the calendar,” Schaefer said.