Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson met Thursday with staff at Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
PHOENIX (AP/CBS5) -
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said the agency will release nationwide data on patient wait times next week.
Gibson made the announcement Thursday during a visit to the Phoenix healthcare facility that was the initial focus of a scandal over veterans and wait times.
Gibson spoke at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center. It has been alleged that numerous veterans died while waiting to get an appointment at the center.
He said the audit data will be listed by location and released Monday. Gibson said the agency will make changes to improve care for veterans, including using more purchased care especially in rural areas.
Gibson said 18 veterans who were kept off official VA waiting lists in the Phoenix area have died.
But he said he does not know if the deaths were related to having to wait a long time to see a doctor. Gibson said the 18 veterans were among 1,700 in the Phoenix area who a report found were not on official medical center waiting lists.
Gibson said his department has reached out to those veterans and will continue to get in touch with veterans across the country.
Gibson also said he is not sure if the 18 veterans are among the 40 veterans a retired doctor claimed may have died while awaiting treatment in the Phoenix area.
He took over the VA Friday after Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.
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