VA chief to make 1st hospital visit amid scandal

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PHOENIX (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald travels to Phoenix on Friday to visit a VA hospital for the first time since taking over the embattled agency late last month.

Reports that dozens of people died while waiting to see a doctor and that employees covered up long wait times at the Phoenix VA helped touch off a national firestorm over veteran care. The former VA secretary was forced to resign.

McDonald, a former Procter and Gamble CEO who took the top VA post July 30, has pledged to "transform" the agency. He has said improving patient access to health care is a priority, along with restoring transparency, accountability and integrity.

Veterans Affairs employs more than 310,000 people and provides health care for nearly 9 million enrolled veterans.

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