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Review team gives Fargo VA a clean bill of health

FARGO - A review team has found no scheduling problems or irregularities at Fargo's Veterans Affairs Hospital.

President Obama has ordered investigations of all VA hospitals in the wake of allegations that veterans may have died while awaiting care.

"The team gave us a positive report, however it's not the final report," said Peggy Wheelden, Fargo VA public affairs officer.

"It went well. They revealed no significant issues at that time," she said.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said there were no indications that the Fargo VA has any of the problems that generated recent national attention.

Twenty-six VA facilities are now being investigated for the alleged deaths and reports that officials may have falsified information on waiting times for veterans seeking VA medical care.

Heitkamp said she has met regularly with North Dakota veterans and veterans groups.

"Other than proximity to care, Fargo services got pretty high marks from everyone," she said.

The Fargo facility has 31,462 veterans enrolled to receive medical care, Wheelden said. Its service area includes all of North Dakota, 19 western Minnesota counties and two South Dakota counties.

Annual outpatient visits last year totaled 260,958 at the Fargo VA and other community-based outpatient centers, she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Craig McEwen at (701) 235-7311