Audit shows Providence VA has among longest average wait times - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Audit shows Providence VA has among longest average wait times

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By: Samantha Lavien
Twitter: @samanthalavien

The average wait time for a new veteran seeking primary care services at the Providence VA is 74 days. The Medical Center ranks 8th in the country for the longest wait times according to an audit released Monday.

"They didn't have to wait to be shipped overseas to go fight wars. You didn't have to wait to be sent to your duty base anywhere in the country. You didn't have to wait to be sent to boot camp. But, when you get out you're going to wait to have medical treatment, that's not right,” said Tony DeQuattro the President of Operation Stand Down Rhode Island which is a program that works with homeless and at risk veterans.

DeQuattro is a Marine Corp. veteran who says the system has to change.

"I'm not really that shocked. I kind of had a suspicion that there was going to be a problem,” said DeQuattro.

The Providence VA Medical Center includes the outpatient clinic in Hyannis Mass.

A spokeswoman for the organization says the average wait time is high because there was a sharp increase in new patients seeking care at the Hyannis clinic and some of the staff there retired. That spokesperson says the VA is adding a Primary care team in both Hyannis and Providence.

"Every time I've brought a veteran to the primary care window they've been told right off the bat it is going to be 30 to 60 plus days. So, they are expecting it. And, being veterans we are used to being told hurry up and wait," said veteran Tom Poole.

Poole works as a volunteer patient advocate with Operation Stand Down Rhode Island. He says he hopes this audit serves as a much needed wake up call.

"Some of these guys that I bring up there may not have 30 to 60 days and we have to figure out ways to circumvent that,” said Poole.

Honolulu ranked the longest wait time for a new patient seeking primary care services in the country, with veterans waiting an average of 145 days for care.

(C) WLNE-TV/Associated Press 2014

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