Texas Congressman Releases Own Data on VA Wait Times


At a hearing in June, O’Rourke likened the crisis in El Paso to a “five alarm fire” and linked the lack of access to mental health care to a higher suicide risk…

Robert McDonald, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, told a House Committee the average wait time for veterans seeking appointments with a mental health provider is 3 days, the wait for a primary care visit is 4 days and the average wait time for visiting a specialist is 5 days. “I defy you to find another medical system in the country that has that,” McDonald said.

O’Rourke said official VA reports for veterans in his district show appointment waiting times averaging 17 days, but a poll his office conducted shows dramatically longer waits.

Last summer, around the same time the VA scandal over wait times was discovered in Phoenix, O’Rourke’s office, the 16th Congressional District in Texas, conducted an online survey to measure veterans’ access to healthcare and the quality of that care. Results then showed veterans waited over 2 months for both primary care appointments and visits with mental health providers.

The survey was repeated this year and O’Rourke’s office released those results last week…

Nearly half of the veterans surveyed said that care at the El Paso VA Health Care System was “more or less the same” as last year, while about 33% said service had “greatly” or “somewhat improved.”  El Paso ranks 141st out of 141 mental health systems in the VA’s own statistics…

Other findings from the survey included:  34% of respondents were not able to gain access to a mental health provider “at all.” …

At the hearing, O’Rourke also mentioned a pilot program that he hopes will correct some of the current problems veterans have in accessing care. Currently, a third of VA care in El Paso happens outside of the VA’s centers. But what he continuously hears from veterans is that those who ultimately access mental health care at the VA are “bounced” back and forth between the community and the VA’s own clinics. Having to repeat their problems to multiple providers over long stretches only exacerbates their trauma…

O’Rourke said his district currently has fewer mental health providers now than it did at the end of 2014. If the VA is serious about preventing veteran suicides, he said, “It’s time to pony up.” ...

2 thoughts on “Texas Congressman Releases Own Data on VA Wait Times

  1. Wow! My grandpa loves going to the VA here but he doesn’t go for mental health. They always have a shortage of staff. They were my customer and they were always hiring for psychologists and psychiatrists.

    Liked by 1 person

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