Acting Secretary tours Baltimore VA Hospital in efforts to improve care
Baltimore, MD (CNN) - The acting Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs is vowing to reduce wait times for veterans seeking medical care. Sloan Gibson visited the Baltimore VA Medical Center Tuesday as part of his mission to speak directly with veterans. The visit comes after a nationwide audit revealed thousands of veterans waited months to get doctor's appointments.
Falsifying records; thousands of veterans waiting months just for medical care…when the shocking audit results went public last week, veterans wasted no time lashing out.
Now we're hearing from acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson, who visited Baltimore’s VA center and labels their loss of trust with veterans unacceptable.
Sloan Gibson - Acting Secretary, Veterans Affairs: "I think it's pretty obvious that we've seen a major erosion of that trust."
Gibson met with the local staff and even addressed concerns from Congressman Elijah Cummings.
Representative Elijah Cummings - (D) Maryland: "All of us have been extremely concerned about the way our veterans have been treated."
There's no noted problems in Baltimore with falsifying records but the acting secretary says there's no denying the wait times. According to the audit to receive a primary care appointment at the Baltimore VA Center is almost 81 days. Specialty care, nearly 44 days.
Sloan Gibson: "We've still got wait times that are too long here."
Gibson says Baltimore’s Health Center is looking to add five new primary care physicians, the only way to trim those waiting lists down, and to earn veterans trust back.
Sloan Gibson: "That's our number one priority. I don't expect that to be easy, I don't expect anybody to give it back."
The VA has acknowledged 23 deaths nationwide due to delayed care. The scandal led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May, and the FBI has launched a criminal investigation. The move partly satisfies requests from members of congress who have pressed for a full probe by the justice department.