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New Patient Wait In Md. VA System Averages 81 Days

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McCorkel Meghan 370x278 (2) Meghan McCorkell
Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Worse than we knew. A scathing audit of the VA nationwide reveals thousands of vets waited months just to get a doctor’s appointment–including veterans right here in Baltimore. The widespread problems included a cover-up with records falsified to hide the problem.

Meghan McCorkell has the shocking details from the new audit.

That new audit reveals 57,000 veterans have been waiting more than three months for medical care. About 63,000 veterans requested an appointment and never got one.

Master Sgt. Steve Klein served in five combat zones in his 27-year career with the Army but when he went to the VA after rupturing discs in his back…

“Basically they told me it would be six months before I could get my surgery,” Klein said.

He’s not alone. An audit of more than 700 VA facilities reveals tens of thousands of veterans waiting months for medical care. In 76 percent of all VA clinics, schedulers say they were ordered to falsify records to hide the wait times.

Monday, the VFW held a meeting in Baltimore County to get feedback on Maryland’s VA system.

“They’re there for a freaking paycheck,” said one.

“Took me a whole month to get a five-minute appointment,” said another.

“I’m dealing with it now. The pain’s still there. It wakes me at night,” said another.

According to the audit, the wait time for a new patient to receive a primary care appointment at the Baltimore VA Medical Center is almost 81 days. New patients needing specialty care will wait nearly 44 days. The wait for a mental health appointment is 32 days.

The VFW hotline for VA complaints nationwide has already received more than 800 calls.

“What’s happened is disgraceful and the employees that have violated the trust that they have for working for the Department of Veterans Affairs and for America’s heroes need to be gone and, if necessary, put in handcuffs and taken away,” said VFW Executive Director Robert Wallace.

Several lawmakers are calling for a Justice Department investigation.

The VA Maryland Health Care System is not currently under investigation by the Inspector General.

VA Maryland officials say all new patients who are waiting more than 90 days to see a doctor are now being contacted and offered an earlier appointment.

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