Texas VA hospital lacked gynecologist for 2 years, report finds

Mackenzie Bean - Print  | 

Many women received inadequate care at VA North Texas Health Care System for years due to obstacles including physician shortages and limited resources, according to a federal report cited by Military Times.

The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General published the report Jan. 23 after investigating the Dallas-based facility for alleged deficiencies linked to women's healthcare and patient safety. The hospital serves the fourth-largest population of female veterans in the country.

Investigators found "a long-standing deficiency related to resources for women veterans healthcare, such as equipment, supplies and space that were required to ensure gender-specific care," according to the report. The hospital did not have a full-time gynecologist on staff between February 2017 and December 2018. The facility also lacked women's bathrooms in clinical areas, forcing female patients to change out of hospital gowns back into street clothes before using bathrooms in public areas.

In total, the OIG shared 18 recommendations for the VA hospital to improve healthcare services for female veterans. The hospital has already taken steps to implement most of these recommendations.

The facility "continues to support the gynecology specialty clinic by an ongoing monitoring process to ensure appropriate staffing levels," Hospital Director Stephen Holt, MD, said in a memorandum to the report. "For example, the addition of a full-time gynecologist over a year ago has improved access and quality of care in the clinic."

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