HI veterans report scheduling problems with VA system

HI veterans report scheduling problems with VA system

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hideo Higa is 92-years old.  He lost his leg serving in the 442nd Infantry Regiment.   He walks with an artificial limb, but gets around surprisingly well considering his condition.

Higa's daughter, Kathryn, cares for him in his Aina Haina home.

She also makes sure he gets proper medical attention.

Kathryn used to take her dad to the VA clinics for care, but doesn't anymore after having issues with the scheduling system.

"(That's) one of the reasons we opted for entirely private care so we no longer use any of the VA health care services," she says.

Kathryn says the system to get an appointment is flawed.   Instead of the patient calling the office to schedule an appointment, the VA clinic calls the patient to give them the day and time. There is a phone number to call if the patient needs to make changes.

"I was never able to contact a human on that call back number," says Kathryn.

And she says there wasn't a voicemail system so she couldn't leave a message.

"It's like that every time," says Bryan Trumbower, a veteran who spent time in the Middle East.

Trumbower says he had to wait five weeks to see an E.N.T when he had a sinus infection.  By the time he got in, the infection was gone because he went to an emergency room to get antibiotics.

An inspection done last week on all VA clinics in Hawaii showed no major problems, but a spokeswoman for the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System says administrators realize there is room for improvement.  Patricia Matthews says hours at clinics are being extended and they are working on technology to treat some veterans at home.