Baltimore Veterans Affairs hospital addressing long waiting times

Here in the chemo unit at the Baltimore VA Hospital, men and women who have confronted death on the battlefield now face a different threat.
Charles Keating survived clashes with the Viet Cong as an Army infantryman in the late Sixties.
"I had to fight the VC, right?  I went to Vietnam, so now it's cancer.  It's the same thing... V...C," said Keating. "For two months, I couldn't eat anything.  It all came up and then I thought I had acid reflux.  Come to find out, it was cancer of the esophagus."
On this day, Keating and other vets get a special visit.
"And you know what it's a shot of?  Earl Weaver getting thrown out of a game,” said a veteran Major League umpire, Jerry Layne pointing to a TV screen as he talked baseball with the vets he had stopped by to pay tribute to.
"I try to come to these VA hospitals and come out with at least one smile and I think I achieve that pretty quickly when I come through the front door," said Layne.
It's getting through that front door, which has drawn criticism for this facility after an audit found new patients, on average, have to wait 81 days for an appointment.
"I have diabetes and I waited a long time... close to two years one time before I saw my doctor... because every time I would come for my appointment, they would cancel it," said Jerome Brewer of West Baltimore.
While the system has pledged to hire more doctors, competition in a city with world-renowned hospitals has made that difficult in the past.
Still between this facility, the hospital in Perry Point and clinics across the state, the VA served more than 55,000 veterans last year here in Maryland, and with rare exception, once they get through the door, they say they're pleased with the way they're treated.
"Like a king.  Like a king.  I love it here," said Keating.
While new patients have had to wait 81 days for an appointment, the average waiting time once vets become established patients is just four days.
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