Washington, DC – A new Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) audit released today found that the average wait time for new patients seeking primary care at the VA Medical Center in Honolulu was 145 days, significantly higher than the desired goal of the VA. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) called the findings of the wait times in Hawai‘i unacceptable and called for improvements in access to health care for veterans.
“This excessive wait time is unacceptable. It is clear that the VA needs additional resources to match increasing demand for health services,” Senator Schatz said. “Our veterans deserve better. That is why I’m supporting legislation that would cut wait times and establish a major new VA medical facility on Oahu that would double VA clinical services on the island.”
Last week, Senator Schatz announced his support for bipartisan legislation authored by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would make the VA more accountable and improve access to health care for veterans. It would allow the VA to reallocate $500 million in unspent funds to hire new doctors and nurses, expanding the pool of health care providers to help reduce the wait times for veterans. The bill would also authorize a $15.88 million lease for the Advance Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access (ALOHA) Center in the Ewa Plain of Oahu.
Once completed, the 118,000 net usable square-foot ALOHA Center will double the VA’s existing clinical capacity on Oahu, helping veterans get the timely care they need by alleviating the demand for existing services at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. The facility is initially expected to provide care to 15,000 veterans, with enrollment growing annually as more veterans visit from the North Shore and the center of the island.