Audit: Nearly 275 in Indiana await first VA visit

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An audit of Veteran's Affairs hospitals and clinics nationwide found that 273 Indiana patients had been waiting for initial appointments at facilities in Indianapolis and northern Indiana 90 days or more after requesting them.

The audit, based on a snapshot of the VA system on May 15, also found that about 230 others in Indiana who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have apparently fallen through the cracks and never received appointments. That includes 173 at the Indianapolis VA hospital.

"This is just an example of how widespread the problems were," said Peter Gaytan, executive director of the American Legion's national headquarters in Washington.

The audit is the first nationwide look at the VA network following reports two months ago of patients dying while awaiting appointments and of cover-ups at the Phoenix VA center

The controversy forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign May 30.

Auditors reviewed 731 sites nationwide and found that the agency's complicated appointment process created confusion among schedulers and supervisors and that a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable. The VA has since abandoned that goal.

Both the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis and the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, which has campuses in Fort Wayne and Marion, had much longer waiting periods for new patients than for established patients.

At the Indianapolis facility, which was flagged for a follow-up review, the new patients waiting to see a primary care physician waited an average of nearly 54 days, far above the 2.6-day average wait faced by established patients.

New patients seeking the same care at the northern Indiana facilities waited nearly 32 days, compared with about 3 days for established patients.

Waits for new patients seeking specialists were lower at Roudebush, at about 32 days, but jumped to more than 48 days in northern Indiana.

Roudebush spokeswoman Julie Webb said the hospital is contacting everyone on its electronic waiting list to determine if it can see them sooner. If the hospital can't offer them appointments within 30 days, it will offer to direct them to care elsewhere in the community.

She also said the hospital was starting Saturday clinics in an effort to see new primary care patients more rapidly.

Webb said the figure of 173 people believed to have fallen through the cracks in Indianapolis was misleading, because it simply represents the number of veterans who have signed up for the system.

Tom Bratcher, Indiana state commander for the Disabled American Veterans, said he had not seen the audit yet, but added, "It's my belief that they're kind of understaffed."

Democratic Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly called the 90-day waiting period "absolutely unacceptable."

"We need to give VA medical facilities the tools they need to bring down wait times and improve care, and we need to hold VA officials responsible for any misconduct," Donnelly said in a statement.

Webb and Mike Brady, spokesman for the Northern Indiana VA system, said the long wait times for new patients stem in part from the extra time initial appointments require, which makes them harder to fit into the schedule.

Webb and Brady also noted that their facilities have difficulty attracting primary care physicians, who prefer to set up shop in the private market.

"We admit we need additional capacity and we are working on that," Webb said.

Nationally, the audit found more than 57,000 patients were still waiting for initial medical appointments after 90 days, and an additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system in the last decade had never been seen.


  • Can't Badmouth
    How very fitting that the miserableness of gov ran healthcare for our troops is finally coming to light while Obama tries to dupe Americans into believing Obamacare will succeed. We all know Obama would much prefer single payer gov ran healthcare, and we now have a glimpse into the disaster that it would be. Gov can't run our veterans healthcare, and they surely can't run the entire nations. Once again, progressive policies proven to be wreckless and outright failures. Take care of our vets by letting them get gov paid healthcare from any hospital. Meanwhile, Obama can't say anything negative of the VA scandal because he knows it reflects negatively towards his failing Obamacare. soooooo, lets let a bunch of terrorists go home and take the focus off the VA...Obama seems to view americans as stupid, low info, w/ short attention spans. I wonder if he's right, after all, Obama is still in office.
  • Pardon My Confusion
    I am a vet currently treated at the VA Hospital in Indianapolis. When I cannot see my primary care physician during the week I choose a Saturday Morning Clinic visit. At my Saturday appointment, just three weeks ago, I was the only patient in the Blood Draw Lab and the only patient in the Clinic that morning. When I left the facility there were no other patients waiting in the Clinic Waiting Room and as I walked by the Blood Draw Lab it was empty. My first thought was "I hope my appointment was not the sole reason for technicians, nurses, and doctors to come-in on a Saturday Morning". Frankly, there has to be more to this story because I have received outstanding care at the VA Hospital. Perhaps they need to employ veterans to run scheduling and follow-up with other veterans. Someone has dropped the ball, and perhaps it starts on the 9th Floor at the Hospital. You do not fire the team when things breakdown, you fire the coach or the GM.
  • Keep govt out of our health care
    Government has no business running a health care system. Our vets deserve better.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?