CINCINNATI: Five Veterans Affairs medical facilities in Ohio scheduled most of their patients for appointments within 30 days, but the average wait time for many new enrollees to be seen was more than a month, according to a VA audit released Monday.
In Ohio, audit findings show that the medical centers in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chillicothe and Dayton scheduled all but 2 percent of their patient appointments within 30 days, but the average wait time for new enrollees ranged from more than 25 days to nearly 53 days at some of the facilities.
The Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Center in Columbus scheduled 94 percent, or more than 34,000 of nearly 37,000 appointments within 30 days. But the average wait for new enrollees there was nearly 36 days with more than 1,700 waiting between 31 and 60 days and nearly 300 waiting between 61 and 90 days.
The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center had more than 960 new enrollees waiting between 31 and 60 days and more than 100 waiting between 61 and 90 days. The Cincinnati VA Medical Center had 670 waiting within 31 and 60 days and more than 260 waiting more than two months.
The Cleveland and Cincinnati medical centers were among 81 sites from 216 visited in the first phase of the audit that the VA said will require further review. The average wait time for new patients awaiting primary-care appointments was 39.48 days in Cleveland and 52.24 days in Cincinnati; new patients seeking specialist appointments waited an average 33.64 days in Cleveland and 43.75 days in Cincinnati.
Harry Prestanski, a Vietnam veteran and executive director of Ohio Veterans United, said he was concerned by the audit findings, but even more so because he believes too many veterans do not live within easy access of existing VA centers to get treatment.
“I think they should find a way to let veterans use their health benefits at other hospitals instead of building more brick and mortar VA monuments,” he said.