A nationwide audit of the Department of Veterans' Affairs has found there are more than 57,000 veterans currently waiting to be scheduled for care. And the Nebraska-Western Iowa System isn't immune.
"This is very concerning," Associate Chief of Medicine for the Lincoln CBOC., Dr. Christie Emler, said. "We work here because we have a passion for taking care of our veterans."
Nationwide, nearly 64,000 veterans requested, but for some reason or another, were not granted an appointment by the V.A. over the last decade. For the Nebraska-Western Iowa system, that number is just more than 600. Dr. Emler says changes are already taking place.
"We are feeding patients out into the community, if the veterans want," she said. "We've recently hired someone and we're posting for another position. We don't want to lose these patients."
Dr. Emler says as of a few weeks ago at the Lincoln V.A., one of three main facilities in the Nebraska-Western Iowa System, they had more than 60 patients that were waiting 90 days or more to see a doctor. That number has since dropped to seven.
"There are times when we can't see a patient right away," she said. "We look at our system on a daily, weekly basis and work with the front line staff, asking them if they're making appointments and doing it right."
Dr. Emler says the goal is to see all patients within 30 days of requesting an appointment. According to the audit, the Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System accomplishes that 97-percent of the time.
The audit also revealed that schedulers are more than 90 facilities across the country were cooking the books, adjusting appointment and wait times. Dr. Emler says, to her knowledge, that has not taken place at the Lincoln location.