VA HOSPITAL TROUBLES

World War II veteran waits nearly 12 hours in VA emergency room

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WWII Army veteran Glenn Diller said he waited nearly 12 hours in the ER at the Phoenix  VA to see a doctor. It never happened. (Source: KPHO/KTVK WWII Army veteran Glenn Diller said he waited nearly 12 hours in the ER at the Phoenix VA to see a doctor. It never happened. (Source: KPHO/KTVK
Congresswoman Krysten Sinema's letter requesting an independent oversight team to evaluate protocols and operations at the Phoenix VA (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Congresswoman Krysten Sinema's letter requesting an independent oversight team to evaluate protocols and operations at the Phoenix VA (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Problems veterans encounter at the VA's Emergency Department continue to come out.

On Tuesday, we showed you the issues veterans were having getting mental health help from the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Hospital help line. One veteran waited 30 rings before hanging up. Just a day later, after calling the number, someone picked up after two rings.

But now, we've uncovered new problems inside the hospital that has been at the center of scandal for nearly two years.

[RELATED: Disconnect between VA Emergency, Mental Health departments?]

Several veterans have come forward saying they've been stuck in waiting rooms for hours upon hours before finally seeing a doctor.

"It'll go away. I shouldn't be talking this much," World War II Army veteran Glenn Diller said as he struggled to breathe. But he wanted to tell his story.

"They didn't really seem interested in my particular case," he said of his visit last week to the Phoenix VA Emergency Department.

The 89-year-old has lived through more than a dozen wars and says he has never seen anything quite like the lack of care he experienced that day.

"They were more concerned about what was going on in their own reception room," he said. 

Diller can barely get up, and last week he was suffering from severe back pain and an upper respiratory cough. It was so bad he asked a neighbor to take him to the ER. He formed an impression of the staff as he sat and waited for nearly 12 hours, and it was not a good one.

"So many were more busy talking amongst themselves, about things at home and stuff," he said. 

He eventually left and went to another hospital. He said somebody saw him immediately.

"It should be a lot better system," he said of the VA's health care. "If they're going to send men to other countries to fight, they should be able to take care of what's left of them when they get home." 

We are waiting on a response to these complaints from the VA. We also reached out to Congresswoman Krysten Sinema's office and have learned her office just sent a letter requesting an independent oversight team to evaluate protocols and operations at the Phoenix VA. 

[ONLINE: Click/tap here to read/download Sinema's letter (PDF)]

Statement from VA spokeswoman Jean Schaefer

"Phoenix VA Health Care System takes concerns raised about patient safety and the timely access of care very seriously.  We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding this Veteran’s visit to the Emergency Department and will take corrective actions as needed.

"Phoenix VAHCS is working diligently to improve the Emergency Department and has undertaken an aggressive effort to reduce wait times and improve the Veteran experience. Specifically, we have:

  • Started a Fast Track clinic in the department where Veterans who present with less urgent health issues are seen by midlevel providers at peak times
  • Started recruiting for additional nurse practitioners and physician assistants
  • Scheduled additional staff in the laboratory and pharmacy during evening hours
  • Provided on-going specialized training to ED staff
  • Developed 24/7 social work, psychiatry coverage in the department"

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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