Wait times revealed: How long are veterans really waiting for care?

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CLEVELAND – The government released official wait times  Monday of every VA hospital around the country, including the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center here.

The date released, shows the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center scheduled 98% of its appointments in less than 30 days, which is better than the national average.

According to the audit released by the Veterans Affairs Department, more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting for up to 90 days for medical appointments. The audit is the first nationwide look at the VA after reports surfaced of patients dying while waiting for appointments at the Phoenix VA Center.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman released the following statement in regards to the report.

“I’m deeply troubled to learn that in over three quarters of VA facilities nationwide, supervisors have directed scheduling staff to manipulate data in the system regarding when a veteran wants to be seen in order to meet performance measures coming out of Washington. It’s clear that their entire performance management system needs to be changed. I look forward to seeing the results of the VA Inspector General report to see how it compares with the VA’s internal audit, as well as the further reviews being conducted in Cleveland and Cincinnati. I’ve met with dozens of veterans over the past weeks from all around the state to get their input on what reforms are needed to fix the VA, and I’ll continue to work to ensure that Ohio veterans are receiving the care they deserve.”

But according to the report in Cleveland, the majority of appointments are scheduled in 30 days or less.

However, the audit did flag Cleveland as well as Cincinnati to be looked at for further review, but it does not say exactly why.

Officials at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center said they are still reviewing the report and are currently seeking clarification from the report developers.

The Louis Stokes VA Medical Center released the following statement:

“The Cleveland VA Medical Center is one of the largest VA’s in the country and schedules more than 2 million appointments per year.  The complicated scheduling process has led to confusion across VA as delineated in the VA Audit and Wait Times Fact Sheet.  We are not aware of any delays in care as a result of misunderstanding of the use of the antiquated scheduling software.  Cleveland VA is re-educating all staff across our 17 locations of care to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of all facets of the scheduling process.”

Ashley Trimble, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland VA Medical Center, added that they are one of the largest VA’s in the country and schedule more than 2 million appointments per year.

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