New report reveals veteran wait times at VA, Indy facility flagged for further review

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 10, 2014)– A troubling new report shows the extent of the situation our veterans are facing at VA hospitals all across the country, and here at home, where the Indianapolis VA was one of six in the region flagged for further review.

The Department of Veterans Affairs issued the results of the internal review on Monday, showing more issues with wait times and scheduling for veterans who just need to see the doctor.

Nationwide, the review shows that 100,000 veterans have seen long wait times, while some 57,000 are still waiting for their first appointment.

Here in Indianapolis, the report show 94 percent of appointments were scheduled within 30 days. By comparison, the Northern Indiana VA was able to schedule 97 percent of its appointments within 30 days.

Recently, a spokesperson with the Roudebush VA Medical Center told us they’ve been busy scrutinizing their own performance here in Indy.

“We’ve been reviewing our systems,” said public affairs office Julie Webb in an interview on May 29. “We’ve been making sure everyone’s had the proper training on what the VA’s policies and procedures are relating to scheduling and use of the electronic wait list.”

Monday’s report shows the Indianapolis VA put some 253 patients on the electronic waiting list, with some of those patients waiting more than two months to be scheduled.

“Being able to review this data should help us decide on the scope, but also to evaluate proposed reforms the President is committed to,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Meantime, Indiana Senator Dan Coats joined a group of several lawmakers urging the justice department to “assure that anyone responsible for abuses is held accountable through criminal prosecution.”

In a written statement, Coats said:

“This report reaffirms a culture change at the Department of Veterans Affairs is necessary. Confirmed audit findings show that Indiana veterans endured unacceptably long wait times with some never receiving an appointment. As I hear from more veterans, I continue to support an independent investigation to make sure we identify and prosecute those responsible for falsifying records and neglecting patient care. As a veteran, I expect my country to fulfill its promises to my fellow servicemen and women. As a Senator, I will seek to hold them accountable.”

Senator Joe Donnelly also released a statement after reviewing the results, which said:

“It is absolutely unacceptable that hundreds of Hoosier veterans have had to wait more than 90 days for primary care. They need to be contacted and seen as soon as possible. I have visited and will continue to be in touch with VA leadership in Indiana and have an outstanding request with Sen. Coats for an in-person briefing from the VA headquarters on any Indiana-specific findings. We need to give VA medical facilities the tools they need to bring down wait times and improve care, and we need to hold VA officials responsible for any misconduct. Every effort must be made to improve the speed of delivery and the quality of the health care given to our veterans.”