Local News

Jun 10, 2014 6:36 PM by Janine Reyes

Veterans Say Audit Only Highlights Some Problems at VA Clinic

CORPUS CHRISTI -- An audit of VA hospitals across the country found that tens of thousands of veterans had to wait at least three months for an appointment. That audit also had something to say about the Veterans Affairs facilities in Corpus Christi.

"I'm a walking dead veteran," Vietnam Veteran Mark Kelley told us in front of the clinic Tuesday.

He feels the country he served is letting him and his fellow soldiers down. An audit just released by the Department of Veteran's Affairs seems to confirm it. That audit calls out the Corpus Christi Outpatient Clinic and its PACT clinic as facilities that "require further review," but the audit does not specify what needs to be reviewed.

"We have veterans here at this clinic that are dying, literally dying, because they can't get treatment" Kelley told us. He struggles with Hepatitis C, but says the lack of specialists in our area has kept him from treatment.

Going out of town is not an option for him, either, because he's not living in the right region. Today we found him back at the clinic after going in yesterday with blood in his urine. "I still haven't seen the doctor," he told us, "and yesterday, I came in."

He's not the only one waiting for reform. Armando Guerrero served in the Navy, he's got about a month left on his 3 month wait to see the doctor. "I can't get in to talk to her and I need a prescription from her," he explained.

Neither feels the care they've received here is adequate.

The VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System said that as a response the the VA Accelerated Care Initiative, they began calling veterans in late May who had been placed on a 90 day wait to see a doctor. They are offering each of the the opportunity to reschedule for a quicker visit, or take a referral to a Non-VA Specialist. Neither man we spoke with at the clinic received that call.

They tell us, they're not seeing any change since the audit highlighted the need for further review.

"Further review? They need to make some major changes," Kelley told us, "they're trying to tell me they don't have adequate doctors," he said.

The Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System also retrained all of their scheduling staff and they are working on making other improvements now.

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