CLARKSBURG, W. Va. – An audit released Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed the wait time for new patients seeking a primary care doctor at the VA Center in Clarksburg is 54 days.

“When we looked at the numbers today, we were surprised at our wait times,” Beth Brown, Director of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center said. “I’m having staff drill down to look, specifically, at the numbers of patients that are needing a visit within 14 days of a new patient.”

Overall, the audit showed more than 57,000 veterans waiting to be scheduled for care and another nearly 64,000 veterans enrolled in the VA health system in the past decade who have never received an appointment.

By Brown’s count, the number of these patients is low.

“As of [Monday] morning, we only had four patients that needed an appointment,” she said. “So we want to go back and drill down to look at the data and make sure that if we’ve got some outliers that we’re not aware of, that we can find out where those are.”

According to Brown, part of the “drill down” will consist of going deeper and more thoroughly into numbers they keep track of daily.

“We look into our numbers everyday as to the number of patients that are scheduled and in what types of clinics they’re scheduled. Then, weekly we also drill down to look at specific delays into getting an appointment.”

VA guidelines set a goal for veterans to be seen within 14 days of their desired date for an appointment, however, the audit has deemed this goal “unattainable” due to a lack of resources and increasing demand.

At this time, Brown is not sure if this goal is truly out of reach due to the reasons laid out in the findings, but does know the medical center will still strive for the previous target.

“We’re going to try to get the patients in as soon as possible,” she said. “Fourteen days is a very rigorous goal. I think that if you don’t have a goal to try to attain, then you may not have the emphasis on that.”

Other VA facilities West Virginians look to for care also were found to not be meeting the target. Martinsburg’s wait time is 47 days; Beckley’s is 39 days; Huntington’s is just under 29 days; Pittsburgh’s is just under 60 days; D.C.’s is just over 38 days.

The audit recommended additional review at numerous facilities, including four in West Virginia.

The Clarksburg and Martinsburg medical centers both were flagged for further investigation, as well as the Westover and Wood County facilities.

“I think it’s important to remember that our veterans are our number one priority and that we will do everything that we can to make sure that they receive the timely care and the quality of care that they deserve,” Brown said.

The numbers were released Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of a national audit.

A nationwide chart of the wait times found by the audit can be found here.

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Comments

  • CombatVet

    I've seen all the news coverage and read the articles but the one thing I find so very interesting is how people are so eager to believe what ever they see on the internet. Why has no one ever questioned why this report full of data has no source or date range. Sounds like an agenda is being forced down the blinded masses.

  • stephenwv

    Like all the other VA directors, they all learned about it in the papers or an audit. 4 on the wait list? Has she even heard about the real list that is not shown to the "figureheads" of the hospital?

    Typical government bureaucrat. "I know nothing!"

  • John

    I think the idea of delay is in hopes that the veterans will die off before they can be provided services. Once the military discharges you, your job is done and they no longer want you around. A real shame that the waiting list for medical services takes so long. Many of our veterans saw combat duty. What if they would have said sorry, my service will be delayed anywhere from 30 to 100 days! No, they did not have that choice, they immediately left and fought to protect our freedom. These delays are about par for our government run medical services.....

  • Brian

    I am a veteran and I have a story but i am not going to wast my time and yours about the ordeal I have went through with my medical problems. I will say I had a heart attack and it took me six months to get a appointment with a cardiologist down in Clarksburg.

  • Jason412

    At the end of May I was referred by my doctor to see a neurologist at Ruby in Morgantown. My first appointment will be 49 days from the day I was referred and scheduled the appointment. With that in mind, I would say the VA wait times aren't as long as recent headlines would've lead me to believe.

    • The bookman

      I think we are talking about the assignment of a Primary care physician, not a specialist. There is a significant difference in the availability of one versus the other.

      • 2XLPatriot

        It took more than 90 days for me to get an appointment with a Primary Care / Family Medicine Doctor. I called the first week of May and the first available appointment is August 4th. Private practice, not VA.

        • IraqX1 & AfghanistanX2

          Sounds like you have never been a patient at the VA hospital before.

          I can only say....I think the system is gamed for the numbers.

        • The bookman

          Did you pick your doc, or submit a request to 50 docs and 90 days was the best date? I would guess that intakes request an appointment from a pool of docs at the VA. Not walk in and request Dr Smith.

  • northforkfisher

    I use the Martinsburg facility and have to say for the most they are very callous and unfriendly to the vets.
    The psychology staff is amazing they take the veterans concerns personally. They also take the to talk and make sure everything is well, not running the assembly line like everyone else.
    A lot of the doctors don't list to you and worry about getting you out the door in the 15 minute limits. I was seeing the second in command of doctors. He would try to give me something that we already tried and didn't work. When I would say save the government's money, because it wasn't working, he would say "I don't care about the money and will throw it out the window."
    They also cancel my medicine without telling me. I was on a very high dose and could have serious problems.
    You could go to the local clinic and they doctor prescribe medicine and the head doctors at Martinsburg would denied it without reason or cause it might cost to much.

  • aquarius

    my opinion as a vet is simple, this country owes better healthcare than what had been delivered. its great to hear stories from vets whose care met expectations, but that should be the rule, not the exception. the quality of care at va hospitals is not a new subject..read ron kovic's experience "born on the fourth of july"...if you dont have time to read it, they made it into a movie..watch it....it is not the va's finest moment.....somewhere, somehow someone in government needs to own this issue and fix the damn problems....no one goes into service to make a fortune or have a banquet at each meal...but the least you're owed is good healthcare for service related injuries.

  • Bill

    I credit the Drs. at the Clarksburg VA for saving my life, I have been a patient since 1996 and have nothing but praise for the staff. Sure there is some things that needs changing like Dermatoligy and sceduling of appointment on the same day instead of scattered out over a week or month, this would also save the VA big money on paying travel pay. I give them A+ for care.

  • Jasper

    REPOSTED from VA Opens old wounds story a week ago.

    Jasper

    Ok. Let me first say I am a Verteran. I have a service connected disability that I receive payment for each month. I used my GI Bill to go to college and I have a very good job because of it. And I have private medical insurance and I have only used the VA medical system when I didn't have it (during college) and only for a few minor times.

    Now I know a guy who is also a service connected veteran that while attending college with me was an enrollment clerk at the VA hospital in Clarksburg. I can tell ya that he also has a good job and doesn't use the system there at ALL!

    When I listened to him talk he would tell me of all kinds of people who tried to use the VA system in Clarksburg, but had never served on active duty or had dishonorable discharges, etc., anything they could do to get into the hospital....he was in his mid twenty's, the people who tried to abuse the system ranged in all ages. Most he figured out when the ID they produced (drivers license, SS Card, etc.) didn't match the name of the DD-214 they were submitting as there own. He caught most...sent them on their way with an escort from the police at the hospital. Some he would catch months, and months later, usually through a slip up of the person seeking the care.

    He also watched as people who needed to see a primary care physician for the 1st time would get appointments that were over 180 days. When he found this out, he would complain, people would get moved around and it was taken care of, for the time being. Some he didn't catch.

    The clerks in the clinics would "send them the appointment date". That was the famous line of BS feed daily....then the vet would go home and get an appointment over 90 days from the time the set foot in the hospital....most would never come back after that....and that's how the game was played.

    That was in the late 1990's - early 2002...

    My friend left the VA hospital prior to getting his degree. He couldn't fight the system anymore and relized that they would never change it. It wasn't in their best intrest to spend the money and resources, because like others have said, people were/are rewarded for saving money.

    I talked with him about this....It doesn't surprise him...not at all.

    He will never go back to the VA hospital system as long as he is breathing...and that was his words.

    May 30, 2014 at 2:21 pm |


    REPLY FROM

    2XLPatriot

    A lot has changed since that time period. ALL first time Primary Care appointments are seen within 14 - 21 days of enrollment. Some are seen sooner. Of course, some have other circumstances that may take a few days longer, usually the Vets schedule and ability to come in for that appointment depending on prior obligations, etc.

    May 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    SO this is to 2XLPatriot and others who didn't believe what I said earlier...

    THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN a WAIT TIME OF OVER 14 DAYS with the VA Hospital in Clarksburg, WV!

    AND I CAN ASSURE YOU IT IS CLOSER TO 90 DAYS!

    • 2XLPatriot

      Did you even read the article? 4 have appointments outside of that window. Do you know how many Veterans we serve at that facility?
      “As of [Monday] morning, we only had four patients that needed an appointment,” she said.

      Try scheduling a new patient appointment with a private Doctor for basic, routine medical care. I just did about 4 weeks ago and the first available opening is August 4th.

      Yes, some do go well over the 14 day target but, there are numerous reasons for this and cannot be fairly measured as solid data to say that we don't work very hard to meet our goal. Go to any hospital or Doctor. Take 10 people and 7 of them will have something negative to say about promptness, service or something they didn't like. Point of fact; You cannot, under any circumstances, please everyone.

      I will defend the VA Medical Center where I work because I know and work with these people and can say without hesitation that the Veteran IS the priority. Everyone has expectations and I believe your "Friend's" is unrealistic. Possibly a disgruntled employee?

      • KoreanWar

        I think you are Blinded by the fact that you work there.

        Jasper is right!

        • IraqX1 & AfghanistanX2

          Yep...KoreanWar guy is RIGHT!

      • Jasper

        Nope...he's NOT disgruntled. He just gets it....and you who work for the Louis A. Johnson, VAMC don't!

        What incentive does the VA have to provide excellent service to the veteran? None! It doesn't have a true metric to judge that service....and it's obvious that the numbers were manipulated across the US to make it seem that the VA system was meeting it's "goals" from the article.

        It's kind of hard to be honest when you are in the beuaty pagent and then you get to be the one to judge yourself.

        There were/are NO repercussions for poor performance!

        Typical government worker attitude.

        • 2XLPatriot

          Jasper, I am also a Veteran and I know where our priorities lie. As I stated before, not everyones expectations are the same. In fact, some peoples expectations are, dare I say, "Absurd"? I have worked in the private sector and I can tell you, it's no better and sometimes, far worse. The system is not perfect and there is absolutely room for improvement but, for some people to get on here and say we are purposely delaying care to Veterans in an attempt to let them die before receiving care is insulting and echoes the political speculation reported by the media. I am a Veteran taking care of Veterans just like I did when I was enlisted. My information is factual, not regurgitated by a friend who apparently couldn't cut it in a hectic environment and couldn't bring any solutions to the table. Initiative and innovation will cause change but, one must possess the motivation to do so. We have made numerous changes in my department that have been nationally recognized and is in the process of being implemented....All for the good of the Veterans we serve.

        • The bookman

          Yet, the calls of poor service at Louis Johnson are not evident. In fact, just the opposite in that I have yet to hear of someone who is dissatisfied by their care, or haven't been treated with promptness and courtesy. Are they overwhelmed with need from incoming veterans? Yep, I would say so. Funneling all veterans through the same pin hole creates the problem, and the VA needs to utilize private care immediately when they can't provide it due to resource shortages. But your assertion that there is a concerted effort at Clarksburg to extend wait times to 90 days is absurd, and your anecdotal charges against the good people there are unfounded.

          • Vietnam Vet

            I agree with Jasper's comments.

  • WEST VIRGINIAN

    I have been serviced by the HUNTINGTON VA f/25 years and never had a scheduled exam/treatment that was delayed and have had excellent care.


    Semper Fi

  • RogerD

    Ms. Brown's assertion of a lack of resources doesn't quite work given the huge surplus the VA carried over from the last operating year.

    This is what you get when you have a top-down system run by bureaucrats. All of us will "enjoy" this quality of healthcare thanks to our elected officials. All of them are responsible.

  • DWL

    My first question is, If they have discovered the long wait times via an audit, WHAY IS THE DIRECTOR OF THIS VA STILL EMPLOYED? The killers are still armed and running free. I'll bet she even voted for the m0r0n.

    • Hop'sHip

      Can anyone make some sense of this comment? If so I would appreciate a translation.

  • Tom

    This is Obama care 30 days to see your doctor. This is what you voted for. Sad MD

  • Aaron

    I'm not sure I understand why anyone would be surprised given that this is government ran healthcare.