"We're going to get to the bottom of those things, fix them
and ensure that they don't happen again," McDonough said on
CBS's "Face the Nation" in an interview aired on Sunday.
The allegations that delays in treatment at veterans hospitals
could have led to otherwise preventable deaths has sparked a
growing political scandal, including calls for the resignation
of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
A top department official, Undersecretary of Health Dr. Robert
Petzel, resigned on Friday in a move critics said was an effort
at damage control. But McDonough sidestepped questions about
whether Shinseki had Obama's full confidence.
"The president will continue to demand that he and all of us who
work for him continue to fix these things until they are
functioning the way that our veterans believe they should,"
Petzel's resignation came a day after he appeared alongside
Shinseki at a congressional hearing about accusations that VA
medical facilities in Phoenix covered up long wait times for
patients, including 40 who died while awaiting care.
Dr. Sam Foote, a whistleblower in the VA case, said on "Fox News
Sunday" that Petzel's resignation was "a great first step". He
said there was no way officials in Washington did not know of
"They knew this was a big problem," he said, adding he believed
Shinseki should stay in his job to keep the focus on fixing the
"I think our best bet at this point is to keep the secretary on
board. But I think the president needs to keep him on a pretty
short leash," Foote said.
The VA has put three senior officials in Phoenix on
administrative leave after doctors there said they were ordered
to hold veterans' names for months on a secret waiting list
until a spot opened up on an official list that met the agency's
two-week waiting time goals.
Allegations have been reported about similar cover-up schemes at
VA medical facilities in at least seven other cities. The agency
runs the largest U.S. healthcare group, overseeing some 1,700
hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other facilities.
(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Jim Loney)
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