The head of Veterans Affairs in Hawaii says before the end of the year, veterans entering the medical system will no longer wait longer than a month to see a primary care doctor.
Last Friday, KHON2 revealed more allegations against Hawaii’s VA system from a health care provider who wanted to remain anonymous. Among the accusations — the waiting list is not 145 days see a doctor, but more like a year, and bonuses for administrators and management are based on the number of patients they see and not on actual care.
Director Wayne Pfeffer made a bold prediction on the controversial wait time and issued a challenge to his staffers.
With senior staff at his side at Monday’s news conference, Pfeffer said that with the help of an additional three doctors to go with the seven full-time equivalents now with the center, along with more hours of operation and other improvements, a veteran entering the system of care in the Pacific will wait no longer than a month to see a primary care physician.
Pfeffer promised the change would happen before the end of the year.
“We have space constraints. We’re hiring staff. I would hope it would be within three months or so,” he said.
Pfeffer said while an earlier review by the VA itself did reveal that veterans just entering the system to see a doctor had to wait an average of 145 days, that same review did not show any irregularities. Pfeffer says he welcomes any call for a review, even one that would be conducted by the Inspector General.
“I think confidence in us will be best generated by an outside review looking again and saying, yes, we do not have an integrity problem,” said Pfeffer, “so that’s something I would look forward to.”
Pfeffer also issued a challenge to his more than 1,000 staffers who work for the VA in the Pacific to come forward with concerns and to not be afraid.
“Every employee should feel comfortable presenting concerns and we do have a system to protect them, so I am challenging employees. If you know of anything that you feel should be looked into, please let me know or your supervisor know,” said Pfeffer.
Pfeffer says while it is anticipated that the VA will release a follow-up report next week, and while it may reveal even longer wait times for those just entering the system of care in the Pacific, he says that new report may not accurately reflect the data at his medical center.