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Author Topic: VA Wait Lists  (Read 1616 times)

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Offline JR Gabbard

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VA Wait Lists
« on: May 07, 2014, 01:32:57 PM »
This issue came up in another thread, but new cases have been reported, so I think it is something HIV+ vets should be aware of and on the lookout for.
What's going on is this:  the Phoenix VAMC got caught making a secret appointment 'wait list'.  Vets requesting an appointment were not put into the regular system until Phoenix was ready to actually schedule the appointment.  This made it look like Phoenix was meeting its obligation to provide appointments within 14 days, when actually vets were waiting months and years to be seen.  More than 40 vets died waiting.
Now it turns out that the CBOC in Ft. Collins CO was doing something similar.  And I've heard rumors of problems in other places.
So far problems have been reported only with primary care appointments.  Primary care is probably the weakest link in the VA chain, because there are significantly more of us than there are of them.  Specialty care (like your ID clinic) has a better us-to-them ratio, and VA seems to shower more attention on you in the specialty clinics (to prevent us from becoming more expensive by getting sick).
But that does not mean there would never be a problem getting an appointment at a specialty clinic.  You have to protect yourself.
You will know that your appointment is in the system ONLY when you have the date/time/room number on a slip of paper from the VA (or when you see it on myhealthevet).  For example, my ID doc always schedules the next appointment while I'm still in the exam room, so I know I'm good to go.  He made some other specialty referrals too (dental, vision), which got scheduled over the phone, but I have the date/time/room number on a VA printout, so, again good to go on those appointments.
You should be seeing your primary care doctor at least once a year.  Those appointments are mostly for non-HIV screening, and they usually send a 'call letter' which means they want you to call to schedule the appointment.  Once you do that, and have a date/time/room number, you're in the system for that appointment.
Otherwise, ALWAYS request an appointment in writing (you might need a paper trail to prove you made it).  The best way is with 'Secure Messaging' on myhealthevet.  Those messages become part of your permanent medical record, so they're hard to deny.
Then you have to follow through.  If you think you've been waiting too long for your appointment (at least 2 weeks) call and ask when your appointment will be.  Keep on them until you get it scheduled.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
If you still get the run around, get in contact with a veterans advocacy group like the American Legion or AmVets (or DAV or VFW or IAVA) and get them involved.  Those groups have real pull, and if you get to the point where you need their help, you probably aren't the only vet having problems with your VAMC.
In the end, I still believe that the healthcare I get from the VA is the best available, especially for folk with HIV.  But I suppose it's only the best WHEN YOU CAN GET IT!!
Pax vobiscum
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah!

L. Cohen

Offline J.R.E.

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  • Posts: 7,539
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: VA Wait Lists
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2014, 07:44:37 AM »

Thanks for that JR.    Rachel Maddow has been covering this story this past week, and I've been following it closely.

We just got to keep on our toes, keep alert. I've been pretty fortunate so far, and haven't had any issues, in this VA Hospital or clinic, here in Pinellas County, Florida.

Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 20mg of Atorvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Amlodipine Besolate 5mg-- Updated 9/24/2017

Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 9/18/2017,  Viral load remains <40
CD 4 @358 /  CD4 % @ 13

 65 years young.

Offline J.R.E.

  • Member
  • Posts: 7,539
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: VA Wait Lists
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2014, 10:12:24 PM »

Then there was this article today in the Tampa Bay Times :


Audit finds records in disarray at Pinellas VA office

Employees said lost and misfiled records were a "major issue" at the Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in Pinellas County that handles veterans' disability claims in Tampa Bay and throughout Florida, auditors say in a new report.
Related News/Archive


A VA's inspector general report released Thursday says a March inspection of the agency's regional office in St. Petersburg found a claims file room "overfilled with records," causing difficulties in locating paperwork.

The regional office has been forced to "rebuild" 27 veteran claims files since September because original documents were lost, the IG said. The number was probably higher, regional office management reported, but the log tracking such cases was itself accidentally destroyed.

In addition, mail room personnel did not date-stamp records as they were received, the IG said, and there was a three-week delay just in sorting and processing arriving claims evidence.

"This delay could also result in employees improperly denying claims because evidence mail needed to substantiate the claim had not been sorted and processed," wrote Linda Halliday, assistant inspector general for VA audits and evaluations.

Regional VA officials say they are already addressing problems noted by the IG by moving records elsewhere and assigning additional personnel.

The IG report was described as "unacceptable and of grave concern" by U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores. "This troubling audit continues to underscore the complete failure of leadership within" the VA, Jolly said.

The audit is part of a national VA review of how effectively the agency locates service treatment records and official military personnel files. Problems with such paperwork can often delay claims for benefits. Veterans say lost claims documents are one of their greatest frustrations in dealing with the VA.

Problems were serious enough that the IG released an interim audit rather than wait for a more complete report.

The audit comes as the VA is facing mounting criticism on several fronts, including accusations that several VA facilities outside Florida may have fudged statistics on appointment wait times to make themselves look better. The VA also is fending off reports in Florida and elsewhere of veterans who have died because of treatment delays.

None of these cases, the VA says, involves Tampa Bay's two VA hospitals, the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa and the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Pinellas.

Paperwork problems at the regional office involve the often-complex disability claims veterans file to receive either a VA pension or medical care. Such claims can involve hundreds of pages of medical records, letters from doctors, and personnel records showing where a veteran served and detailing injuries or wounds suffered in combat or elsewhere.

A lack of space forced VA claims employees in St. Petersburg to stack loose boxes of records around the perimeter of a storage room.

"As a result personnel have encountered difficulties locating files and in moving banks of files in the permanent shelving units due to the volume and weight of the files," the IG said.

Employees told auditors that lost and misplaced files were "a major issue" in the office. Auditors requested the hard copies of 10 claims files for review. One of those files, the IG said, could not be found at all.

The regional office declined substantive comment beyond saying it is fixing those issues.

The regional office told the IG it was sending 100,000 inactive claims folders to a VA records center in St. Louis to clear space and had hired 20 temporary file clerks to help. Those records will be transferred by August, the office said.

And the regional office told the IG it had assigned 10 employees for two weeks to alleviate the mail backlog, reducing delays from 21 to five days. Additionally, five employees have been permanently assigned to help handle incoming records, and five others will be hired by the end of May, officials said. Incoming mail is now being time-stamped.

"VA is transitioning to a paperless claims processing system which will eliminate all paper claims folders and improve the efficiency of claims processing and service to veterans," the VA said in a statement.

The regional office currently has 36,622 disability claims pending. Of that total, 21,222 are older than 125 days, down from 35,924 older than 125 days as of March 2013, the VA says.

Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 20mg of Atorvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Amlodipine Besolate 5mg-- Updated 9/24/2017

Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 9/18/2017,  Viral load remains <40
CD 4 @358 /  CD4 % @ 13

 65 years young.


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