NM veterans split over Albuquerque VA controversy

Created: 05/20/2014 8:37 PM
By: Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Veterans who rely on the Albuquerque VA hospital for care tell very different stories about their experience there.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 reached out to veterans on our Facebook page asking if they have had experienced long wait times for care. At least one New Mexico lawmaker is calling for a full investigation into the hospital after reports of a secret waiting list used to hide long wait times.

"I'm not really surprised by it," said Navy veteran Manny Baca.

He said he has faced long wait times for doctor's appointments and problems scheduling surgery.

"The surgery it took me almost a year to schedule it," he said.

Albuquerque's VA hospital is in the same district as the one in Phoenix. That's where allegations first surfaced of staff covering up long wait times that sometimes resulted in patient deaths.

 "I've heard other veterans say they've had to wait a long time to go in and get evaluations for heart things or blood pressure problems," said Baca.

 But other veterans say they don't see those problems here. One Army veteran named Lawrence told us he's been satisfied with his care.

"They've been amazing since the day I got off active duty," he said. "They held me by the hand and made sure I got all the care and benefits they felt I deserved and I can't thank them enough. I'm living a good life now because of them."

 He admits wait times aren't short, but he says they're acceptable for the free healthcare he receives.

 "It makes me angry that the employees and the staff there are portrayed as people that don't care," he said. "Maybe at the top it's all messed up. But I know the staff here is great and I can trust them with any issue I have."

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