NM VA waiting list has shortened significantly

Updated: 07/08/2014 5:40 PM | Created: 07/08/2014 5:08 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The number of New Mexico veterans who are still waiting to get a doctor’s appointment has gone down dramatically.

Last month an audit revealed more than 1,000 veterans in our state were on a waiting list. Now that number is 482.

The Veteran's Affairs Department audit found more than 1,040 New Mexico veterans still waiting more than 90 days to get their very first appointment at the VA hospital in Albuquerque back in June. One month later, the latest audit shows that more than half of those patients have now gotten that appointment. 482 are still waiting.

A spokesperson for the New Mexico VA health care system says that big drop is due to the new nationwide "accelerating care initiative".

This all stems from an investigation that started in May that looked at VA hospitals, including the one here in Albuquerque. On claims the hospitals kept a secret waiting list and lied about wait times for veterans who need care.

The initiative's goal, helping those on the wait list, making them appointments, and making sure it's done in a timely manner.

A spokesperson at the VA in Albuquerque says hospital staff is spending more time on the phone, helping veterans schedule appointments. 

We've learned the VA recently held 3 weekend clinics in Albuquerque and in Rio Rancho.

The VA is considering holding more clinics, but so far nothing has been scheduled.

While this may show progress for the VA, there are still veterans waiting for that first appointment.

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