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New Patients at County VA Medical Facilities Wait 44 Days for Appointments

The audit found that in San Diego, 94 percent of appointments were booked with a wait time of 30 days or less, but new patients had to wait an average of two weeks longer.

New patients at Veterans Affairs medical facilities in the San Diego region generally had to wait nearly 44 days for a primary care or specialty care appointment, according to an systemwide audit released Monday.

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched a nationwide access audit last month after it was reported that patients at the VA medical center in Phoenix died while awaiting care. The scandal led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

The audit found that in San Diego, 94 percent of appointments were booked with a wait time of 30 days or less, but new patients had to wait an average of two weeks longer. New patients seeking mental health services were seen, on average, in 34 days.

Established patients at the VA San Diego Healthcare System were seen within three to five days, according to the audit.

The Escondido Community Outpatient Clinic, which NBC7/39 reported is privately run and contracts with the VA, was one of 31 flagged for requiring further review from facilities visited during phase two of the audit. The VA said the finding was based on responses by top officials at the facilities to questions and from comments from the site reports.

Nationally, the audit found that an "overly complicated scheduling process" results in "high potential to create confusion among scheduling clerks and front-line supervisors"; meeting a 14-day wait-time performance target was "simply not attainable because of a growing demand for services"; 13 percent of scheduling staff interviewed said they were instructed to enter a different date in the scheduling system than what the patient asked for; and pressure was placed on schedulers to make waiting times appear more favorable.

The national audit also found that staffing problems were discovered at smaller outpatient clinics.

—City News Service
Donald Snyder June 11, 2014 at 11:35 AM
What would you expect from a Commander In Chief who doesn't care about our military and only uses them for his war. Remember when you elected him and he said we'd be out of Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of the year? Yet another broken promise by King Obama. I hope you voters are happy.
Jay Berman June 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM
I have a service related disability and use the San Diego VA System for about the last 20 years. I use the Oceanside clinic as well as the La Jolla hospital. Sure, you have to wait for non emergency care ... if you have an urgent issue, contact your doctor, they will squeeze you in ... I had major back surgery last year with perfect results, I am grateful for the VA ... They are short handed and need more facilities. I AM NO FAN OF expansive government, I think a voucher type system would work better and be cheaper. I feel sorry for you suckers who are forced into Obamacare ...

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