Audit: Syracuse VA Hospital Scheduled Most Appointments In Less Than 30 Days
An internal audit of Veterans Affairs centers released Monday showed the Syracuse VA hospital - the one closest to northern New York - scheduling 95 percent of its appointments within 30 days.
The average waiting timew for a new patient to receive general care is just under 54 days. Nationwide, the audit found, more than 57,000 veterans have been made to wait 90 days or more for first appointments.
The audit was done in the wake of a scandal which began at the VA center in Phoenix, Arizona. There, and in other VA facilities, secret waiting lists were kept, and veterans were forced to wait inordinate lengths of time for care. As a result, some veterans - it's not clear how many - died because of the delayed care.
To see a specialist at the Syracuse VA, the wait for a new patient is a little under 53 days, and to receive mental health care, new patients waited just under 35 days.
Wait times for established patients were far shorter at the Syracuse facility.
All of the New York state VA facilities listed - in Albany, Bath, NY, Canandaigua and western New York - made almost all of their appointments in less than 30 days.
(See the portion of the document dealing with New York's VA facilities here.)
The VA said the 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 said 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.
“Thankfully, the wait times at VA hospitals are a lot better in New York than in Phoenix and elsewhere, but even one veteran who doesn’t get adequate healthcare, or has to wait too long, is one too many, and we should work to improve the care we are providing for our veterans both in New York and throughout the country," said SEnator Charles Schumer in a prepared statement.
"And that is why we should pass the bi-partisan bill to improve VA level of care and administration that is set to be introduced this week.”
Last week, Senators Bernie Sanders and John McCain reached agreement to spend $500 million on new doctors and nurses for the VA system, build new VA facilities and give veterans who live far from VA centers other choices for medical care.
- reported by 7 News & The Associated Press