Veterans voice concerns over VA clinics in the East

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Dozens of veterans gathered at the Greenville VA to learn about the latest on VA programs and seek out resources for help as part of a Veterans Town Hall.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said it will serve veterans within 30 days of making an appointment. Officials said any longer wait times would be excessive.

However, wait time have continued to be a problem, despite the VA’s goal. In Jacksonville, excessive wait times have dropped about 14% over the past year. Still, more than 26% of appointments in November 2015 took more than 30 days to schedule.

In Greenville, excessive wait times have grown from 10.8% in December 2014 to nearly 20% in November 2015.

Vietnam veteran Ken Jarvis said since opening the new clinic, his wait times at the Greenville VA have dropped to around two or three months. He said it’s improved drastically in the past year, but doctors could do better.

“Right now they don’t have that much time and they just do what’s really necessary to get you through the door, through the door. That could change,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said patients only see a doctor for about 15 or 20 minutes, which isn’t enough time to explain some problems.

Since moving to the new facility, the number of patients at the Greenville VA has increased from 9,000 to more than 13,000.

Deanne Seekins said although wait times can be several weeks, they try to get medical help to those needing it right away.

“If we’re seeing a patient here at the Greenville clinic and they require urgent care, if they’re having chest pain, then we send them right over to Vidant,” Seekins said.

Since so much attention has been focused on PTSD with veterans, Seekins said mental health assessments are now part of primary care visits.

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