Local VA leaders discuss secret waiting list allegations

Created: 06/10/2014 4:58 PM
By: Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The leaders of New Mexico's Veterans Administration are talking for the first time Tuesday about shameful allegations of vets left waiting for help.

Until now, the New Mexico VA has remained silent on the scandal, but its leaders finally held a news conference this afternoon.

Monday, the VA released numbers from a nationwide audit of its hospitals. Here in New Mexico, out of 45,000 appointments scheduled, almost 3,500 had to wait more than 30 days to be seen.

Tuesday afternoon, KOB Eyewitness News 4 asked the tough questions a lot of our veterans and viewers want answers to. Specifically, was there a secret waiting list?

"I've not seen any evidence of that," Interim Director James L. Robbins said. Chief of Integrated Care Service Meghan B. Gerety added, "I think we can say there are no secret waiting lists here. None. We do have waiting lists. That's not to say we don't have a waiting list. But we don't keep secret waiting lists."

When asked if anything was done to make patient wait times appear shorter, or to "cook the books" so to speak, Robbins replied, "We have not seen that. I not found that since I have been here."

The New Mexico VA says some patients on its waiting lists have died. It's looking at each those cases to see if the wait for care was a factor in any of those deaths.

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