Hawaii's VA Dir. will not resign, calls it a misunderstanding

Hawaii's VA Dir. will not resign, calls it a misunderstanding
Published: Jun. 14, 2014 at 3:26 AM HST
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Wayne Pfeffer
Wayne Pfeffer

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's lawmakers are calling for the director of Hawaii's Veterans Administration to resign or be fired.

Senator Brian Schatz and Representative Tulsi Gabbard fired off letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs Friday calling for an investigation into Wayne Pfeffer, the Director of VA Hawaii Pacific Islands Health System.

"I have been directly lied to by Mr. Pfeffer," says Rep. Gabbard, "Every single one of us should see this as a personal, unacceptable situation."

The statements in question were made by Director Pfeffer on June 5, in a meeting with congressional leaders.

Pfeffer said his formula showed that veterans in Hawaii were waiting about 30-50 days to receive care.  But days later, the Department of Veterans Affairs released the average wait time to be 145 days for new patients seeking primary care doctor visits.

Pfeffer says at the time of the June 5 meeting, he didn't have the national numbers yet and his formula was based on a waiting list of patients.

"Either the administrators of the VA locally didn't know that the wait time was five times what it should have been, or they knew and they didn't tell us.  Either way that undermines our confidence and undermines trust," says Sen. Schatz.

"I didn't intentionally mislead anybody," says Pfeffer, "I think it's a misunderstanding at this time."

Pfeffer also says he has no evidence that his staff falsified documents and 'cooked the books' as some have accused.

Pfeffer is hoping to meet with members of Hawaii's congressional delegation, especially Rep. Gabbard, a combat veteran who is very passionate about the issue.

"I ask for their indulgence," says Pfeffer, who wants to fly to Washington.

Pfeffer has only been the director of Hawaii's VA for about eight months, he says he wants time to rebuild the medical center and bring down wait times.

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