Tuesday, September 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Audit: Local VA facilities have long wait times

OSO50_hearing_vets_1_30_13

Dr. Jane Trauba Sliheet fits a hearing aid onto Navy veteran Forrest Milas, at the Mare Island Outpatient Clinic in Vallejo, in 2013. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic file)

By
From page A1 | June 12, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — This area’s Department of Veterans Affairs clinics and medical centers are suffering from the same wait-time problems as the rest of the nation, but none are suspected of dubious scheduling practices, according to the health care system audit released this week by the VA.

The report included audit information on access to both the Northern California VA Healthcare System, which is based in Sacramento, but oversees outpatient clinics at Travis Air Force Base, Mare Island and Martinez, and the Palo Alto VA Healthcare System, which services the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Both are part of the VA Sierra Pacific Network that covers Northern California and northwestern Nevada.

Neither the Palo Alto or Northern California systems were listed as needing further review and investigation, according to the audit. Two other facilities were flagged for potential scheduling irregularities – the Livermore Medical Center and the Yuba City Outpatient Clinic.

The audit of the Northern California VA Healthcare System stated that 54,628 appointments out of 58,568 – or 93 percent – were scheduled within 30 days of the veteran patient’s request. The Palo Alto VA system got its patients scheduled with a doctor in fewer than 30 days 95 percent of the time, the audit stated.

Both VA health care systems didn’t meet the national average, which stated 96 percent of VA patients were able to get appointments scheduled with their doctors in 30 days or less.

The longest average waits were for new Northern California system VA patients scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician, an average 43.48 days, while the shortest average waits were for established patients scheduling a mental health appointment, an average of 2.87 days.

The nationwide audit gave a more complete picture that laid out the widespread problems in the VA’s facilities. It covered 731 facilities across the nation and was based on more than 3,700 staff interviews.

Overall, the audit found “a complicated scheduling process resulted in confusion among scheduling clerks and front-line supervisors in a number of locations.”

“A 14-day wait-time performance target for new appointments was not only inconsistently deployed throughout the health care system, but was not attainable given growing demand for services and lack of planning for resource requirements,” the audit stated. The audit also found that the 14-day goal was “simply not attainable” due to growing demand and lack of capacity.

The audit concluded “while the Veterans Health Administration must assess and learn from the access audit, we are immediately redoubling our efforts to quickly address delays in veterans’ health care.”

The audit was started after a political firestorm was ignited when a whistleblower revealed extensive problems at the Phoenix, Ariz., VA facility where dozens of veterans died while awaiting care there.

Army veteran Clyde Gamble of Vallejo, who has been helping other veterans get benefits for years, said he agreed with the Northern California audit figures. He said that he has had little problem with getting veterans care at local VA facilities within a reasonable amount of time – for the most part.

“There have been problems, but it has not been too bad,” Gamble said.

Gamble said the Oakland VA center and other facilities have been overloaded for years, partly because veterans from other areas come here for treatment to get away from poor VA service elsewhere.

He also said that the backlogs and long wait times “have been going on for years and this is nothing new.”

Navy veteran Bernard Costa of Vacaville was more dubious. He called the 93 percent figure “pure B.S. because I know a lot of vets who have had to wait a long time for an appointment.”

“This is something that has been ignored for a long time,” Costa said. “It is not news to the vets.”

Gamble said much has to be done to solve a problem that has been going on a long time.

“This has got to get better,” Gamble said. The audit, he said, will show “the next person in charge what needs to be fixed.”

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 8 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • omydarling21June 12, 2014 - 3:04 am

    Yes finally it has come here. David Grant has long wait times and has been that way for years now.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacJune 12, 2014 - 7:00 am

    We need less veterans.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895June 12, 2014 - 7:17 am

    Satire, Bill, satire.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DanielJune 12, 2014 - 7:56 am

    Need more deserter prisoner swaps for Al Queda murdering terrorists to divert attention and spotlight from this inexcusable situation that also reminds of Obamacare when it's tenacles take full affect.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinJune 12, 2014 - 11:04 am

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have are new Benghazi.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MarkJune 12, 2014 - 12:03 pm

    according to my neighbor, his roommate was sent home multiple times being told his chest pains were indigestion. Only to die of a heart attack last year.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • hmm...June 12, 2014 - 4:22 pm

    WHAAAAT?? You mean a government run healthcare system is inefficient and bogged down?!?!?!? That's not a shock, and is an indication of what Obamacare will become. Wake up people!!!!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinJune 12, 2014 - 5:13 pm

    The VA has the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any HMO/insurance agency.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Labor Day not a holiday for everyone

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Labor Day breakfast introduces union-backed candidates

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

Pool provides last dose of summer fun in the sun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
SafeQuest schedules peer counseling training course

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

VP Biden says workers deserve ‘fair share’

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
San Francisco to be 1st to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GOP challenger tries novel tactics against Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
US eating habits improve a bit – except among poor

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

 
No gray area: Beliefs shape views of Brown killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Poland’s PM: Ukraine’s war must be stopped now

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

US helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
‘Guardians’ tops Labor Day, summer box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Kirk rallies to win the Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rockies top Giants after losing end of suspended game

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dunn homers in 1st at-bat as A’s top Mariners

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Right guard Boone passes physical, rejoins 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders name rookie Derek Carr as starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Armijo beats Vanden 2-0 to claim All-City boys soccer title

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armed with new deal, Chiefs’ Smith looks forward

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Column: Stewart’s Chase status doesn’t matter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders ink CB Dowling, 9 others to practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Serena Williams, Djokovic roll to US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Houston Astros fire manager Bo Porter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hamels, 3 Phillies relievers no-hit Braves

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Austerity debate flares as Europe recovery fades

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 8 Comments | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7