RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- An internal audit shows more than 100,000 veterans face long wait times at VA Hospitals across the nation.
From the middle of May through last week, over 700 facilities were visited with about 3,500 staff members interviewed for the audit. Investigators came to Nevada last month to evaluate how the Reno VA Hospital is being run, and according to audit documents, the average wait time for new patients here is 53 days.
"That just is unacceptable to us," said Public Affairs Officer Darin Farr.
Reno officials conducted their own evaluation of the hospital in April. Before VA investigators arrived, Farr said wait times were already being looked into.
Throughout the nation, 64,000 patients in the past ten years have never received an appointment, while 57,000 vets are still waiting for appointments after at least 90 days. Investigators also found 13-percent of VA schedulers were told by supervisors to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter.
For several weeks now, the Reno VA has started a zero wait time program. "We designed that new system keeping in mind sustainability, because the other one wasn’t working," said Farr. "Times change."
Farr said the Reno VA is now taking up to 30 walk-in appointments per day, after finding 30-percent of veterans were not showing up for their previously schedule appointments. "That was a wasted opportunity that we could have seen somebody same day that was walking through the door. We said, 'why don’t we go ahead and take that thirty percent of the time and leave it open in the schedules?'"
Twenty-three teams of physicians, nurses and other medical experts are in northern Nevada. Up to 18 of these teams now have flexible time each day for walk-in appointments.
Farr said the new system works, but it is too soon to evaluate for the long-term.