VA Maryland: Audit 'not surprising'

BALTIMORE - The average wait time for new patients at the VA Maryland Healthcare System for primary care is 81 days, according to an audit released Monday.

ABC2 Investigators have heard horror stories from veterans about waiting even longer than the average amount of time. But in May, Dr. Adam Robinson, with the VA Maryland Healthcare System, told ABC2 that Baltimore didn't have the problems we've seen around the country, and that our wait times are not an issue.


 "Two weeks if it is not an urgent case," he said during an In Focus interview about the wait times. "If it is an emergent or urgent case, they can come and be seen that day."

The VA calls the wait times a problem and someone from their union says it's "disturbing." But they say it's something they were aware of before the audit came out. We asked them why we were told last month that VA problems in other cities weren't an issue here.

"A veteran who needs care can be seen today," said Dr. Martin Garcia Buñuel. "So any veteran who needs care-- new, established, coming from another state, another VA, if they need care, we give it to them right then and there. So, I would say that we can see them definitely within two weeks. And I think we see them within a day or two if we need them. And once again, this is based on what the need of the veteran is. And that's really what we're trying to focus on. Each individual veteran needs their care in the safe, quality, compassionate way, and that can be done within a day, it can be done within two weeks. Right now, we have some veterans who are waiting a little bit longer, but it's all based on that same framework of providing care in that way."

As of Tuesday, the VA Maryland has more than 170 patients on an electronic wait list who are waiting at least 90 days for an appointment. They say they call the patients daily to check on their needs and to keep the lines of communication open.

The President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 331 calls the numbers disturbing, but says it's nothing that can't be fixed. He says they'll make every effort to correct the problems.