Sick Veterans Sick of Waiting

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – New Orleans area veterans protested outside the downtown VA clinic Monday afternoon hoping to speed up the time it takes to see a doctor.

“When you call to get an appointment and they give you one three months down the road, that’s what we’re talking about,” says Renee Tye, publisher of Thunder Roads magazine Louisiana. “You’re too sick or you’re dead before you ever get in.”

“Forty people died in Phoenix because of the VA,” says veteran Jimmy Price who’s worried a similar tragedy could happen in Louisiana. “They were on a waiting list and they ended up dying.”

“Waiting list deaths they called it,” says veteran Jude Trafficano. “Why do I have to keep coming back and be told to come back again?”

Public Affairs spokesperson for Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, Amanda Jones points-out corrective action to fix appointments and waiting line management is now being addressed.

And it’s called Accelerating Access to Care Initiative. Click HERE for more.

The initiative signed by President Obama allows veterans to seek primary care outside the Veterans Affairs Department.

The initiative provides specialty care, in-patient and mental health treatment to veterans who could not access a VA hospital or clinic because of distance or prolonged wait times at their regular facility.

Jones says in a statement, “Care that cannot be immediately provided by our health care system is coordinated with other VA health care systems or through community hospitals, where we have spent approximately $100 million annually on patient care, to ensure our Veterans receive the best possible care in a timely manner.”

She says construction of the 1.6 million square foot replacement medical center along Canal Street is to be complete in 2016, “We will transition from solely a system of outpatient clinics to a level one tertiary care and regional referral medical center.”

Jones also wants to relieve fears area VA clinics will close.

“Clinics in Baton rouge, Bogalusa, Franklin, Houma, Hammond, Slidell and St. John parish will remain open,” the statement says.

“Only the clinics in the immediate area will move to the new medical center.”

“Patients are evaluated for clinical urgency, as determined by a provider, and those patients who need it can have same-day access. We also purchase over $100 million in care annually for services we currently cannot offer and to ensure timely access for our patients.”

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