Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
A new audit of veterans hospitals suggests local veterans overall have significantly shorter waiting times at facilities in New York and New Jersey than they do elsewhere in the U.S. But their performance figures vary — and national inspectors have some concerns about at least two local V.A. hospitals.
Auditors surveyed seven hospitals in the region — but only gave scores for five. Castle Point, 70 miles north of New York City, and Lyons, 30 miles west, both need “further review.” Ken Mizrach, director of the V.A. hospitals in northern New Jersey says there appear to be some problems with the scheduling software for the Lyons facility, but the extent is not yet clear.
"There was some concern about whether or not some of the scheduling issues may have been — what they say is — maybe not putting down perhaps the veterans’ first date of preference, but perhaps the next available date," Mizrach said.
The audit also found at the V.A. in East Orange, N.J., new patients on average wait 47 days for an appointment with a specialist. That is a little better than the 49-day national average, but significantly slower than at other facilities in the extended metro area. Martina Parauda, director of the Manhattan-based Harbor V.A., says several staff members there manually double-check the scheduling software each day to make sure the appointment calendars are accurate.
"It’s all driven by what the veteran needs or what the doctor says the veteran needs." Parauda said.