70% of Spokane VA patients not seen within 14 days

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by WHITNEY WARD & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 2 at 9:02 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Less than 30% of new Veterans Affairs patients were seen within the VA’s target of 14 days in Spokane, according to records.

Public records showed that nationally only two out of five new patients were seen within the agency’s 14-day target.
   
One Spokane veteran said he would never go back to the VA Medical Center.

“These guys that are injured are just getting the run around. And it bothers the heck out of me,” said U.S. Navy veteran Bob Stuart.

Medical care was critical for Stuart. He had cancer four times and had open-heart surgery. He enrolled for healthcare benefits at the VA in 2001.

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“They set me up for an appointment, and it would take a month, or a month and a half to even get the appointment,” said Stuart.

Public records showed the Spokane VA saw more than 2,000 new patients in the span from October 2013 to March 2014. Less than 30% of those new patients were seen within the VA’s 14-day target. The average wait time in Spokane for a new patient appointment was 24 days. The national average was 27 days.

“I'm here because I strained my knee, let's say. And they'd look at that, and then I'd say, 'Well, I've got several other things that are a problem.' And they'd say, 'Can't help you. You'll have to make another appointment for each one of those things,’” said Stuart.

Stuart decided the VA hospital was not worth his time.  In 2014, Stuart was paying several hundred dollars a month for his own private insurance. He said he would never go back to the Spokane VA.

“I couldn't get decent help,” said Stuart. “I just feel like all these other servicemen, old and new, are just getting hosed. Pardon me. It's not right.”

More than 350,000 veterans nationwide signed up for VA healthcare from October 2013 through March 2014. Only 40% of those received a first appointment within 14 days, according to records. Public records showed the other 60% often waited months for their appointment.

Officials at the Spokane VA declined to comment to KREM 2 News.

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