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Arizona congressional candidate urges hearing on Phoenix VA hospital

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox speaks in Phoenix. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- A local lawmaker called for a special hearing Friday after the chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee made some startling comments about the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix.

The chairman, Rep. Jeff Miller, said that as many as 40 patients at the hospital may have died because of prolonged waits for treatment at the hospital. He also claimed the hospital keeps two sets of lists to conceal the waits that patients have to endure for doctor's appointments and treatment.

Maricopa County Supervisor and congressional candidate Mary Rose Wilcox has sent a letter to Miller, asking him to come to Phoenix to conduct a special hearing on the matter.

"You need to pay attention," she said she wrote in the letter. "You need to hold a hearing where people can tell you exactly how they feel. We must get recommendations, improvements, and most importantly, appropriate the dollars to change this system."

Wilcox said that if the allegations against the hospital are true, they're unacceptable.

"Eighty-one thousand patients go there, they have a budget of $438 million and they still can't take care of patients the way that they should," Wilcox said. "This is outrageous, and should never, never be tolerated."

Wilcox said she had an "abrupt" conversation Friday morning with Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman, telling her to "get to the bottom of this" and announce how it will be fixed.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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