MADISON, Wis. - According to an audit by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, new VA patients will wait longer to get an appointment at Madison's hospital than any other in the state.
Those numbers show the average wait for new patients seeking primary care at Madison's facility is almost 51 days. That's more than double the average wait time for the VA hospitals in Milwaukee and Tomah.
Madison VA Hospital spokesperson Tim Donovan said the data is not a sign of negligence.
"That's largely due to the fact that demand has increased so much over the past six months or so," Donovan said. "At the same time, our demand for primary care has increased, we've lost a few primary care providers due to retirements and for other reasons."
Donovan said the hospital is in the process of hiring new doctors and contacting patients to expedite the appointment process.
"This hospital has a very well-deserved reputation for providing excellent care, and we've been doing that all along," Donovan said. "We're doing that today, we'll do that tomorrow, we'll do that into the future. "
Donovan said the department's report even said the 14-day target set by the VA for wait times is unattainable.
Federal investigators will review William S. Middleton Memorial Veteran's Hospital in Madison again, along with one of its outpatient clinics.
The audit also shows 525 veterans in Wisconsin have been waiting more than three months for medical appointments. Another 405 people who enrolled for VA health care over the past decade were never seen by a doctor.
Vietnam War veteran and hospital patient Otto Wruck was surprised to hear about the long wait times. He said while it used to be a problem, there have been vast improvements in the hospital's efficiency.
"It's very good, and I'm speaking from the bottom of my heart," Wruck said. "Many years ago it was a little dubious, but they really improved. They really have."
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