Wait times for some SC vets average 77 days - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Wait times for some SC vets average 77 days

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By MEG KINNARD
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WIS) - Patients seeking care through the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center in Columbia are waiting an average of 77 days for their first appointment with a primary care doctor - more than five times longer than the department's goal.

We now know as of May 15th, the new patient average wait time is 76 days. Nearly 10% of appointments scheduled, that's about 7,500 patients had a wait time longer than 30 days, but according to records more than 71,000 patients at Dorn were seen within 30 days.  

Dorn wasn't the only South Carolina VA hospital to make the list for further review, the Charleston and Myrtle Beach Medical Centers along with Augusta, Georgia Medical Center also made the list.

A report from the Department of Veterans Affairs released Monday says the average wait time for new patients at South Carolina's other VA hospital in Charleston averaged about 45 days.

The department says an audit of 731 VA hospitals and large outpatient clinics found the agency's complicated appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks and supervisors.

VA guidelines say veterans should be seen within 14 days of their desired date for a primary care appointment. The department now says that meeting that target was unattainable given existing resources and growing demand.

Right now the VA says they're in the process of contacting in excess of 90-thousand veterans about appointment times. Those who have been waiting longer than 30 days will have the option to be rescheduled sooner if VA capacity exists, keep their appointment, or be referred to non-VA providers in the community.

Click here to see the full report.

After the VA's internal audit report was released Monday, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Rep. Jeff Miller released this statement:

"Today's report is more disturbing proof that corruption is ingrained in many parts of the VA health care system. The only way to rid the department of this widespread dishonesty and duplicity is to pull it out by the roots. That's why it's incumbent upon the Senate to do what the House of Representatives has already done: vote to give the VA secretary the authority he needs to immediately fire failing VA executives, including all supervisors who ordered their subordinates to cook the books. Additionally, the Department of Justice should get off the sidelines and start actively pursuing charges where applicable to the fullest extent of the law."

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