Success should be measured in the growing number of people served, she said.
Two private studies in 2018 by the Rand Corp. and Dartmouth College found the VA system generally delivers care as good or better than other providers.
Still staff shortages can mean delays in services provided to veterans, such as making the wait for doctor appointments and test results longer, the inspector general’s report said. Shortages also have a negative impact on morale on hospital staff.
Medical center directors say non-competitive salaries, competition from other health care facilities, too few candidates to choose from, and difficulty recruiting staff to some locations, such as in rural areas or cities with high costs of living, are the main problems.
The inspector general’s report was completed Sept. 30, about two weeks after the VA regional director, Leslie Wiggins, was placed on administrative leave while the VA reviews a number of issues at facilities in the region. An Atlanta VA spokeswoman did not answer a request for information about the issues under review.
Wiggins came to Atlanta as the hospital director in 2013 and was promoted two years later to oversee the region, which includes most of Georgia, as well as South Carolina and and Alabama.
There have been a number of problems in the region, including retaliation against a whistleblowing employee, a recent case of a dying vet being found covered in ant bites at a VA facility and low hospital performance scores in 2018. Out of eight medical centers, the scores of five dropped, including Atlanta. Two hospital scores stayed the same and one improved.