About 900 Ill. Veterans Requested, Didn’t Get Care
By The Associated Press, with additional reporting from Illinois Public Media
A new audit shows nearly 900 veterans have requested appointments at Illinois' Veterans Administration hospitals in the past decade but not received them.
The Veterans Affairs Department released findings Monday of a national audit on quality of care and wait times.
It follows allegations that 40 patients died awaiting care at a Phoenix hospital where employees kept a secret waiting list to cover up delays.
The audit shows 494 new patients requested an appointment at the VA hospital in Marion, Illinois but no appointment was scheduled.
"That is unacceptable,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in a statement, reacting to the 90-day wait times in Marion. “I have asked Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson to brief me this week on the audit of Illinois facilities. I want to know what staff was instructed to do when it came to scheduling appointments, what bonuses were paid to senior officials and what pressure to create secret waitlists existed."
It also shows the average wait time for a primary care appointment was 54 days in Danville and 33 days for patients at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital outside Danville.
“Today’s release of the VA’s Access Audit confirms that the problems with veterans getting timely service are even more widespread than previously revealed,” said Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville, in a statement of his own. “My office has aided numerous veterans through the years who have experienced similar issues, and I encourage anyone currently in that situation – as well as VA employees – to share with me any knowledge of irregularities at the VA.”
Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says the VA hasn't been forthcoming enough about problems.
Here's a look at wait list and waiting time numbers for five VA sites in Illinois: Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital west of Chicago, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Marion VA Medical Center and the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.
_New patients who requested appointments in the past decade for whom an appointment had not been scheduled as of June 2: Hines 140, Jesse Brown 64, Danville 122, Marion 494, Lovell 53.
_Patients still awaiting medical appointments 90 days or more after requesting them: None listed for Hines, Jesse Brown 1, Danville 19, Marion 3, Lovell 50.
_Patients who waited more than 120 days for an appointment: None listed for any of the Illinois sites.
_Total appointments scheduled, reflecting caseload: Hines 53,645, Jesse Brown 32,213, Danville 19,150, Marion 27,300, Lovell 10,688.
_Average wait times for new patients seeking primary care: Danville 54.08 days, Jesse Brown 40.85, Marion 38.31, Hines 33.20, Lovell 15.46.
_Average wait times for established patients seeking primary care: Marion 2.04 days, Lovell 1.66, Danville 1.47, Hines 1.22, Jesse Brown 0.75.
_Average wait times for new patients seeking specialist care: Jesse Brown 53.69 days, Danville 52.14, Marion 51.53, Hines 45.95, Lovell 19.59.
_Average wait times for established patients seeking specialist care: Lovell 2.58 days, Hines 2.30, Danville 1.80, Marion 1.71, Jesse Brown 0.82.
_Average wait times for new patients seeking mental health treatment: Jesse Brown 42.77 days, Danville 35.64, Marion 28.20, Lovell 24.32, Hines 21.22.
_Average wait times for established patients seeking mental health treatment: Lovell 2.53 days, Jesse Brown 2.27, Hines 1.5, Danville 1.06, Marion 0.90.