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After Protest, VA Rescinds Selection Of Phoenix VA Overseer Who Misled Congress About Wait Times

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

The Department of Veterans Affairs has just rescinded its selection of Dr. Skye McDougall as director of the Southwest Healthcare Network, which manages the Phoenix VA, after it was revealed that McDougall misled Congress on wait times.

“After careful consideration of the position, Dr. McDougall made the decision to pursue other options, and today, she was named the Director for VISN 16 in Mississippi,” Jean M. Schaefer, public affairs officer at the Phoenix VA, said in a statement. “Mrs. Kathleen Fogarty will remain as the acting VISN 18 Director while VA continues to find the right leader for the Network.”

But as the statement notes, while McDougall will not head to Phoenix, she will take up the role as director for VISN 16 in Mississippi. VISN 16 oversees the Shreveport VA hospital, the facility home to whistleblower Shea Wilkes, a mental health social worker, who brought public attention to problematic wait times after management refused to listen to his concerns.

“Putting Skye McDougall over all the hard working VA employees who work each day with their hearts 100% focused on helping Veterans is a dishonor and unjust,” Wilkes tells The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It is a slap in the face to Veterans who utilize VISN 16 VA Services because now these Veterans have to worry about a VISN Director that lied to Congress about wait times.”

Back in October when the VA announced the appointment, GOP Sen. [crscore]John McCain[/crscore] wrote a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, asking him to stop the selection process, saying it’s inappropriate for McDougall to take over Phoenix, the epicenter of the waitlist scandal, as she had deliberately misled Congress about wait times.

“I am extremely concerned by this appointment,” McCain writes. “I believe that this selection does nothing to regain veterans’ confidence that the VA has been reformed in the aftermath of the tragic scandal during which veterans died waiting for care while senior VA executives collected monetary bonuses.”

In March, McDougall gave testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, in which she said veterans only waited an average of four days at the Greater Los Angeles VA medical center. But an investigation from CNN into internal documents found the average wait time for an appointment was 48 days.

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