In the wake of a national Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wait list scandal that led to patient deaths, a federal audit shows the local VA hospital at 150 S. Huntington Ave. manages to schedule appointments for local veterans within 30 days 99 percent of the time.
But first-time patients have a significantly longer wait time, with an average wait time of over 59 days. Three hundred eighty four new patient veterans are waiting for appointments more than 90 days out.
An established patient only has to wait an average of a little over a day for an appointment with that patient’s primary care physician.
According to the report, the S. Huntington VA have 96,474 appointments scheduled, but the report does not indicate the timeframe for those appointments. Of those 96,474 appointments, 99 percent were scheduled within 30 days.
Dennis McNally, commander of American Legion Post 76 at 280 South St. in Jamaica Plain told the Gazette that this dovetails with what he has been hearing from vets.
While he admits that most of his input so far has been from “old-timers, Vietnam vets,” he is actively seeking input from younger Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.
“It seems like everyone loves the place. Everyone I talked to around here has praised it,” McNally said.
A satellite clinic in Brockton was flagged by the audit for further review, though a reason why has not been listed.
The VA’s S. Huntington location “was audited but Brockton is our only facility that will be revisited,” VABHS spokesperson Pallas Wahl confirmed for the Gazette.
The U.S. VA is responsible for veteran healthcare, benefits and memorials. Its healthcare system has been plagued by delays and a major backlog for years. The current scandal was kick-started by a Phoenix facility that was falsifying records, keeping vets waiting upwards of 100 days for appointments. In some places, vets have died waiting for care.
The VA’s Brockton location offers short-term rehabilitation, medical care, palliative and hospice care, long-term care, a chronic Spinal Cord Injury unit, mental health services, comprehensive primary care, and a Domiciliary for Homeless Veterans. It also offers an inpatient psychiatric unit for women, and a residential rehabilitative unit for women suffering from both PTSD and substance abuse.
The S. Huntington campus offers ambulatory and primary care service, as well as advanced diagnostics and radiation oncology.
The audit is public accessible at va.gov/health/access-audit.asp.