CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The wait time for new patients seeking a primary care doctor at the VA Center in Cheyenne is more than 32 days - more than twice the limit the Department of Veterans Affairs had set as a goal, according to a report released Monday by the agency.
The VA facility in Sheridan also exceeded the goal, with an average wait time of over 45 days for new patients to see a doctor. The data was part of a national audit.
The audit found that the Cheyenne VA hospital requires further review. Cheyenne VA spokeswoman Patricia Hill said Monday she couldn't comment without reviewing the findings.
The VA recently abandoned guidelines that veterans should be seen within 14 days of their desired date for a primary care appointment. The department has since said that meeting that target was unattainable given existing resources and growing demand.
According to the audit, 13 percent of VA schedulers across the country reported getting instructions from supervisors or others to falsify appointment dates in order to meet the appointment goals.
The audit follows reports in recent months that patients had died while awaiting medical care at a VA center in Arizona. The audit found long wait times at hundreds of VA hospitals and clinics across the country for patients seeking their first appointments with both primary care doctors and specialists.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., on Monday announced that he had joined 19 Senate colleagues in calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing at VA medical facilities.
"Evidence of secret waiting times, falsification of records, destruction of documents, and other potential criminal wrongdoing has appalled and angered the nation, and imperiled trust and confidence in the Veterans Health Administration," the senators' letter states.
"While we commend and appreciate the (Inspector General's) pursuit of his inquiry, an effective and prompt criminal investigation must inevitably involve the resources of the Department of Justice, including the FBI," the letter says.