Chicago VA allegations have Phoenix connection

PHOENIX - New claims at a VA hospital near Chicago have some connections to the controversy in Phoenix.

Over the last few weeks, several allegations have been uncovered at VA hospitals across the country regarding delayed care for veterans.

Now claims of a secret waiting list at the Edward Hines VA Hospital near Chicago have come to light.

And that’s not the only connection to the Phoenix VA.

It turns out, Phoenix VA hospital director Sharon Helman used to work at that Illinois VA hospital in question.

In fact she was in charge of the Edward Hines VA Hospital when this alleged secret waiting list started.

President of the AFGE Local 781 Union Germaine Clarno says up to 20 hospital employees came to her claiming the Edward Hines VA kept a secret waiting list starting in 2011.

“It was taking information that was real information and transposing that into Excel spreadsheets for example. Lists and spreadsheets that are outside the system,” Clarno said.

Helman was director at the Edward Hines VA from 2010 to 2012 before coming to Phoenix.

She has now been on administrative leave for two weeks while the Office of the Inspector General investigates claims that up to 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the hospital.

Helman has repeatedly denied a secret waiting list for veterans exists at the Phoenix VA.  

We reached out to Helman for comment, but could not get a hold of her.

Meanwhile Illinois VA hospital administrators deny the accusations.

Its director says she's not aware of any data being manipulated and she hasn't found any evidence of a secret list.

Federal auditors have been at the Edward Hines VA Hospital over the last few days after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki order audits of all VA clinics.

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