Enyart Visits Marion VA After Patient Care Delays

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By Matthew Searcy

MARION -- Patient delays at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion has veterans and lawmakers speaking out. On Thursday, U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart toured the facility and spoke with both patients and hospital officials about the delays.  

"I want to fix the problem so the vets get the care," said Enyart. 

An internal investigation revealed 8 southern Illinois veterans waited more than 90 days for appointments at local outpatient clinics. Enyart believes it's a result of staffing issues.

 

"You are looking at hundreds of medical professionals they need in this facility," explained Enyart. "We need to look at bringing younger doctors into the system and I think a good way to do that would be to workout some kind of student loan forgiveness." 

 

The Marion VA employs has more than 1,400 full time employees but Enyart says the facility still needs more than 100 additional medical professionals.

 

Not all patients have noticed the shortages. Some told News 3 they have no problems with healthcare delays.

 

"It seems like I can get an appointment down here any time I need it and the care at the nursing home was great," said Vietnam veteran Everett Moore.  

 

However, at a local forum on Wednesday many veterans complained about wait times and poor service.

 

"People have fallen through the cracks and they are trying to fix it," said one a local woman. "I was one of them that fell through the cracks." 

 

"I used to defend the people of this country and I am frustrated that the people are sitting and letting this happen," said one local veteran.  

 

Enyart says the care at the facility is far from perfect but he hasn't seen any evidence of secret wait lists at Marion and doesn't believe there's a need for further investigation.

 

"Going on a witch hunt doesn't help these veterans," explained Enyart.  

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