Martinsburg VA Officials Respond After Audit Released

- MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A federal audit was released by the VA Inspector General, and the Martinsburg VA facility was cited for having longer than acceptable wait times.

And that facility, along with others across the country, will now face further investigation.

The audit showed the Martinsburg facility keeps veterans waiting for 47 days to be seen for a primary care appointment. And the goal, according to the audit, is for just a 14 day wait time.

Now the Martinsburg VA facility has been flagged for further investigation. It's one of 81 sites that were determined by the audit that require further review.

"We take the audit very seriously and whatever the findings will be we'll take immediate action appropriate action," said Medical Center Director at the Martinsburg VA, Timothy Cook.

Officials with the VA center in Martinsburg say they don't know why they're being investigated. They say the initial assessment of the sites requiring further review is based on a review of responses by the "front-line" staff, and in Martinsburg, those staff members were said to be very cooperative and helpful.

More than 35,000 veterans use the Martinsburg Medical Center and their community outpatient centers and locally, some veterans have mixed thoughts about this investigation.

"A lot of veterans waiting around, they're just waiting around to be seen and its kind of depressing. They're in the hallways and they're just kind of lingering around waiting to be seen by you know medical professionals," said Steve McCarthy, a local veteran who's been using the VAMC for six years. 

"Nothing is perfect. But I feel blessed to you know actually have that. To have the privilege of, I, all and all, I feel fortunate," said Bill Morgan, a local Vietnam veteran who's been using the VAMC for 16 years. 

And many are hopeful this investigation will change things for the better.

"I think it'll, we're going to come out a lot better than we were as far as you know the facility and the total care for almost everyone. I think everyone should benefit," said Morgan. 

Officials also say they're working to fix that lengthy amount of time patients have to wait to be seen.

"We've taken some very proactive response to that. In fact we started many, many months ago, looking very carefully at any of our clinics that may have had longer wait times," said Cook.

Among the areas where they are trying to improve wait time include, their dental facility where they're adding more dentists.

Also, they're starting extended hours for veterans, as well as free day care for those who need it.

"Just awaiting the audit findings to determine what areas we need to look at," Cook said.

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