PHOENIX – Wait times for appointments at the Phoenix VA have dropped dramatically since a scandal rocked the federal agency, but it still takes nearly a month before veterans can see a doctor, according to a facilities website.
“It takes longer for a veteran to get care in some cases than it takes for you or I to get care. That’s not fair,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said to ABC15 on Sunday.
Wait times for appointments at Phoenix’s Carl Hayden Medical Center averaged 27 days, access times showed.
“We have really been working hard to change the perception of what’s going on here,” Rima Nelson, director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News in March.
Times at other Valley VA sites were a mixed bag: the Northwest Clinic in Surprise averaged 28 days, Southwest Clinic in Phoenix 24 days, Southeast Clinic in Gilbert 21 days, and Phoenix Midtown 19 days. The Northeast Clinic is Scottsdale had only a six-day wait.
During the height of the 2014 scandal, wait times were 115 days.
Around the state, the Lake Havasu Clinic had the worst average at 47 days, followed by Cottonwood at 45 days. Sierra Vista’s wait was 36 days.
In January, the VA pointed to a study that compared wait times between the VA and private sector appointments in 2014 and found times were similar. By 2017, the study said, wait times at VA facilities improved while the private sector’s was the the same.
Sinema added there had been “modest improvements in some parts of the VA,” in the state, but disagreed with President Donald Trump’s assessment the overall system was “was doing great.”
“We’ve got to do a couple of things to strengthen the VA so it’s providing adequate, timely and appropriate care,” Sinema said to the TV station.