SAN DIEGO (CNS) - New patients at Veterans Affairs medical facilities in the San Diego region generally had to wait nearly 44 days for a primary care or specialty care appointment, according to a system-wide audit released Monday.
The Department of Veterans Affairs launched a nationwide access audit last month after it was reported that patients at the VA medical center in Phoenix died while awaiting care. The scandal led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
The audit found that in San Diego, 94 percent of appointments were booked with a wait time of 30 days or less, but new patients had to wait an average of two weeks longer. New patients seeking mental health services were seen, on average, in 34 days.
Established patients at the VA San Diego Healthcare System were seen within three to five days, according to the audit.
The Escondido Community Outpatient Clinic was one of 31 flagged for requiring further review from facilities visited during phase two of the audit. The VA said the finding was based on responses by top officials at the facilities to questions and from comments from the site reports.
Nationally, the audit found that an "overly complicated scheduling process" results in "high potential to create confusion among scheduling clerks and front-line supervisors"; meeting a 14-day wait-time performance target was "simply not attainable because of a growing demand for services"; 13 percent of scheduling staff interviewed said they were instructed to enter a different date in the scheduling system than what the patient asked for; and pressure was placed on schedulers to make waiting times appear more favorable.
The national audit also found that staffing problems were discovered at smaller outpatient clinics.
Authorities have identified a 69-year-old man who was gravely injured when he was struck by a car while walking in the same Poway intersection where sheriff's deputies were investigating a collision in which his wife struck and injured a pedestrian about 30 minutes earlier.
Arraignment is scheduled Thursday for a transient accused of repeatedly burglarizing the office of a South Bay community group before torching the premises last week.
A 92-year-old man, who allegedly shot and killed his 51-year-old son Wednesday night inside an Old Town San Diego apartment was arrested Thursday.
A firefighter was injured on Thursday morning when he was struck by a vehicle while battling the Woolsey Fire in Ventura County.
Offshore winds will weaken throughout the day Thursday. Gusty winds are possible in the mountains and inland valleys, though weaker and less widespread.
Students from Central Elementary School and other San Diego elementary schools on Wednesday took part in a special Thanksgiving dinner with their True Blue Buddies.
Firefighters were able to halt the spread of two small brush fires – one in Carmel Valley and another Sorrento Valley on Wednesday night.
The death toll from the massive Woolsey Fire burning through Malibu and surrounding areas appeared Wednesday to have risen to three, with authorities confirming the discovery of a charred body in a burned-out Agoura home.