Moran, Jenkins tour NE Kansas VA medical center

Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center (KSN News)
Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center (KSN News)

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – Some Kansas veterans can’t get medical appointments at U.S. Veterans Affairs facilities and are having scheduled checkups canceled as the dates approach, two members of the state’s congressional delegation said Friday after touring the VA medical center in Topeka.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said his office has received about a dozen complaints over the past six months from veterans who’ve said they called for appointments for VA medical services and have been told to call back again after six months. A spokesman for the VA health care system in eastern Kansas said he’s not heard of such problems.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins said veterans have complained to her office that within a few days of a scheduled appointment for a routine visit, a VA employee has called them and said the appointment needs to be rescheduled weeks later. An aide said the congresswoman has received about 10 such complaints in the past month.

Moran and Jenkins discussed the complaints from veterans with reporters after a 30-minute tour of the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka, in which they visited a few hospital patients in their rooms. Moran is a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Jenkins represents the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas, which includes Topeka and Leavenworth, home of the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center.

Their visit came days after the VA released an audit showing that more than 57,000 veterans nationwide had to wait at least three months for initial appointments, including six in the VA’s eastern Kansas system. The VA has disclosed that some Midwestern hospitals had unauthorized patient waiting lists, including one with 385 patients at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita.

But Moran said he’s troubled by reports that veterans who call for appointments are being told to call back again in six months because they then don’t appear on any lists, authorized or otherwise.

“I raised it because I don’t think it’s received any attention,” Moran said after the tour. “There’s just no evidence, no list someplace that you can find. There’s no smoking gun.”

Jim Gleisberg, spokesman for the VA’s eastern Kansas health system, said some veterans may have had appointments rescheduled because of staffing issues or other contingencies. But he said in his 15 years with the agency, he’s never heard of employees telling people seeking appointments to call back in six months.

But he said local VA officials will looking into the allegation and, if it proves to be true, correct the situation.

“That’s not the way it’s supposed to be done,” Gleisberg said.

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