Audit: More than 57,000 patients still waiting 90 days or more for appointments at VA hospitals

WASHINGTON - The Veterans Affairs Department says more than 57,000 patients are still waiting for initial medical appointments at VA hospitals and clinics 90 days or more after requesting them. An additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never had appointments.

The department says an audit of 731 VA hospitals and large outpatient clinics found that the agency's complicated appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks and supervisors. The audit says a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable given the growing demand among veterans for health care and poor planning. The VA has since abandoned that goal.

The audit released Monday says 13 percent of VA schedulers reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter.

Longest average wait times for VA new patients

Veterans Affairs medical centers have come under criticism for long wait times for care. Here is a list of the facilities with the longest average waits as of May 15 for new patients seeking primary care, specialist care and mental health care, according to audit results released Monday.

NEW PATIENT PRIMARY CARE LONGEST AVERAGE WAIT TIME:

1. Honolulu, Hawaii: 145 days

2. VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend HCS, Harlingen, Texas: 85 days

3. Fayetteville, North Carolina: 83 days

4. Baltimore HCS, Maryland: 81 days

5. Portland, Oregon: 80 days

6. Columbia, South Carolina: 77 days

7. Central Alabama Veterans HCS, Montgomery, Alabama: 75 days

8. Providence, Rhode Island: 74 days

9. Salt Lake City, Utah: 73 days

10. Richmond, Virginia: 73 days

 

NEW PATIENT SPECIALIST CARE AVERAGE WAIT TIME:

1. VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend HCS, Harlingen, Texas: 145 days

2. El Paso, Texas: 90 days

3. White City, Oregon: 88 days

4. Clarksburg, West Virginia: 86 days

5. St. Louis, Missouri: 86 days

6. Middle Tennessee HCS, Nashville, Tennessee: 71 days

7. Durham, North Carolina: 69 days

8. Hampton, Virginia: 68 days

9. Mountain Home, Tennessee: 67 days

10. VA Central Western Massachusetts HCS, Leeds, Massachusetts: 67 days

NEW PATIENT MENTAL HEALTH CARE AVERAGE WAIT TIME:

1. Durham, North Carolina: 104 days

2. Clarksburg, West Virginia: 96 days

3. Amarillo, Texas: 61 days

4. El Paso, Texas: 60 days

5. Erie, Pennsylvania: 57 days

6. Central Alabama Veterans HCS, Montgomery, Alabama: 57 days

7. White City, Oregon: 57 days

8. VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend HCS, Harlingen, Texas: 55 days

9. Hampton, Virginia: 54 days

10. Dallas, Texas: 50 days

 

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