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Nashville Veterans Wait Longer for Care -- John Dunn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Local veterans may be waiting months for treatment. We're learning Nashville's VA hospital system has one of the longest wait times in the country. It is a frustrating problem for many veterans, and the call for change is growing louder.

We've been hearing about long wait times in VA hospitals across the country. A new report from USA Today shows that the Nashville region has one of the most severe problems. It takes a new patient an average of 65 days to see a doctor.

By most accounts, veterans are satisfied with the quality of the care at the Nashville VA, but getting in the door is another matter. "It takes probably about three or four months to get to see a primary care (doctor)," says veteran Katie Brown.

Katie Brown has seen the problem. Brown is a veteran who needed care for her knee and hip. She was told it could take six months to see an orthopedist. "I was having such a hard time, even walking it hurt so bad," says Brown.

A new USA Today report reveals Nashville veterans wait an average of 65 days to see a new doctor, which is well above the VA's target of two weeks. The Nashville system has one of the highest wait times in the nation.

Brown, who is the Tennessee Adjutant for the Disabled American Veterans, says she hears about the problems on a daily basis. "One guy told me he had been walking around with a catheter for a year, cause they kept putting him off," says Brown.

U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, (D) Nashville, is concerned. He says the VA needs more money to hire more doctors. "We've got to make sure that the Veterans Administration serves all our veterans, serves them really well, and serves them promptly. We are the volunteer state, let's serve our veterans and serve them well," says Rep. Cooper.  
 
The Nashville area VA acknowledges the problem and says it will be contacting veterans on its waiting list to provide them with care. Leaders are now considering extending clinic hours and taking weekend appointments.

Until the issues are fixed, Katie Brown says veterans deserve better. "They need more people to take care of them," says Brown.

Across the country veterans are waiting about 27 days too see a doctor, here in Tennessee that number is 65 days. The local VA director, Juan Morales, says they will not rest until this is resolved.

For news updates follow John Dunn @WZTVJohnDunn

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