Phoenix VA defends wait time experiences


PHOENIX — Recognized with PTSD in 2008 after a deployment to Iraq, 30-year-old Military veteran Dennis Sutherland has spent a decade within the Veterans Affairs healthcare system.

“I believe in some points it has improved,” Sutherland mentioned. “For instance, at this time I used to be capable of stroll in to get a chest X-Ray and stroll out in 10 or 15 minutes.”

However getting a psychological well being appointment is a special story. Dennis known as the VA on April 18 to schedule an appointment at one of many VA’s psychological well being clinics within the Valley. Dennis was instructed it might be six weeks earlier than he may very well be seen.

“They instructed me they should rent extra suppliers,” Sutherland mentioned.

In line with the VA’s reported wait occasions on its web site the psychological well being clinic that Sutherland makes use of has a mean wait time of simply seven days for appointments. That’s a stark distinction to the six weeks Sutherland was instructed he must look ahead to an appointment.

Phoenix VA Public Affairs Officer Cynthia Dorfner says Sutherland’s case is uncommon as a result of the clinic he makes use of lately misplaced a psychiatrist. Dorfner says the VA stands by the integrity of its system to report wait occasions.

“These numbers come immediately from our appointment database,” Dorfner mentioned.

Dorfner additionally mentioned the company is attempting to maintain up with a quickly rising inhabitants of veterans in Maricopa County. The healthcare system receives a mean of 300 new enrollees per week, in response to Dorfner.

The company is trying to rent extra employees and broaden clinics. It has added extra choices for veterans to get care by means of telehealth consults and the company has partnered with CVS and hearth departments.

“Comply with up appointments for established sufferers are nicely under these of latest affected person appointments and we proceed to search for alternatives to shorten wait occasions for brand spanking new sufferers,” Dorfner mentioned.

Steve Cooper is a veterans’ advocate who runs the nonprofit Fort Veteran. Cooper claims Sutherland’s dilemma is just not distinctive as a result of he hears from veterans virtually each day who’re given wait occasions of 4 to 6 weeks to see a doctor.

“I believe you are uncovering the Phoenix VA scandal half two,” Cooper mentioned. “I believe the wait occasions are being lined up.”


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