ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A new audit released by the Department of Veterans Affairs confirms what many have been saying. Long wait times, scheduling errors and a lot of veterans still hoping to see a doctor.
For the first time, KRQE News 13 heard from administrators at the Albuquerque VA health center about the problems discovered here.
To put it simply, they admit there’s a lot of work to be done. Among the biggest concerns are wait times for patients, a shortage of primary doctors and training.
As a whole, the nationwide audit conducted by the VA, shows a complicated scheduling process and a performance target for new appointments that was inconsistent.
Closer to home in New Mexico, administrators say that was a problem and a panel Tuesday says it’s not surprised by the audit’s findings.
There’s also been a lot of talk nationally about secret waiting lists but that was fiercely shot down by administrators here. They say there is or never was such a thing.
When it comes to bonuses for scheduling, administrators say that practice is no more, although it had likely happened in the past.
As of May 15th, the Albuquerque VA hospital says it has more than 45,000 scheduled appointments, excluding surgeries and other diagnostic procedures. New patients from New Mexico waited an average of 45 days, while those needing specialty care waited nearly two months.
They say despite the findings, they’ve provided quality care and are committed to veterans health.
“We’ve got to restore trust one veteran at a time,” Interim Director Dr. James L. Robbins said.
“Some big call, some fancy national program, that’s not what’s going to work for us. What’s going to restore trust is us reaching other veterans as individual people and trying to resolve their issues.”
When asked about an independent audit, administrators here say they’re open to the idea.
They say they’re currently calling all veterans who have been waiting to get them the help they need.
At a town hall meeting over the weekend, veterans blasted the care they have, or in some cases have not received.