Texas VA hospitals top longest wait time rankings

Texas Veterans Affairs facilities have some of the nation’s longest wait times with four centers at which patients seek mental health care ranking in the top 10, according to newly-released federal data.

Per the Associated Press, a national audit at 731 VA hospitals and large clinics found that though veterans are supposed to wait no more than a 14 days for an appointment, that metric is “not attainable” based on “the growing demand for VA services and poor planning.”

Existing patient times better than specialty, mental health waits

The audit found 92 percent of existing Texas patients are scheduled within two weeks and 96 percent within 30 days, but processing new cases often takes longer.

The VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend center in Harlingen with its 85-day average new patient wait time came in second only to the Honolulu VA facility with its 145-day average wait.

With a 145-day average wait for specialized care, the Harlingen facility was ranked worst-in-the-nation. El Paso with 90-day waits came in second.

New patients seeking mental health care found an average 61-day wait in Amarillo, the nation’s third longest slot. The El Paso center and its 60-day average wait ranked fourth. Harlingen with 55 days came in eighth-worst while the Dallas VA center came in 10th at 50 days.

It’s unknown as to just how long veterans have been subjected to these wait times. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Department of Veterans Affairs stopped sending teams of turnaround experts to underperforming hospitals at the same time a growing number of VA facilities showed consistently high death and complication rates, internal agency records and interviews reveal.

Starting in 2011, when the VA instituted a new system to track performance standards, five VA hospitals notched consistently poor scores on a range of critical-care outcomes, including mortality and infection rates. By the first quarter of this year, that bottom-performing group had expanded to at least seven hospitals, records show.

During most of that time, VA senior management suspended a long-standing program that had sent teams of doctors and monitors to its worst-performing hospitals to try to improve them, agency doctors said.

Congress is now moving toward passing legislation to approve new funding for hiring more doctors and nurses although the nationwide shortage of primary care physicians makes this effort a challenge that surpasses simply funding availability. The FBI has also announced its opening of a criminal investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Thanks to big government bureacracy, the promises of health care made to those who honorably served our country have been, at least to some degree, been proven false. Those false promises – especially a calculated decision to dishonor one’s word – can be worse than no promise at all.

And in a “fool me once – shame on you, fool me twice – shame on me” mode of thinking, Obamacare will only bring more of the same.

Lou Ann Anderson is an information activist and the editor of Watchdog Wire – Texas. As also a contributor at Raging Elephants Radio and News Radio 1400 KTEM, she writes and speaks on a variety of public policy topics. Lou Ann is the creator and online producer at Estate of Denial®, a website that addresses probate abuse via wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney as well as other taxpayer advocacy issues.

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