Escondido VA clinic flagged during national audit

ESCONDIDO — An Escondido clinic providing healthcare services to local veterans was flagged during a national audit of wait times at Veterans Affairs medical facilities because of one report of incorrect scheduling practices.

A June 9 report on the audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year noted that the Escondido VA clinic had been flagged for further review. A VA clinic in Imperial Valley was the only other VA facility in Southern California marked for additional investigation.

The Escondido clinic was flagged because one employee reported being told by a supervisor to schedule patient appointments in a way that does not comply with VA guidelines, according to Christopher Menzie, public affairs specialist for the VA San Diego Healthcare System. 

The employee’s claim was unsubstantiated and the supervisor involved is no longer working at the clinic.

This was the only report of scheduling problems at the clinic, Menzie stated. There were no scheduling delays or problems with appointment wait times discovered at the clinic.

New patients must wait one to two weeks for an appointment at the Escondido clinic, which is better than the average wait time of 43.77 days for all of San Diego County clinics.

New patients wait about three-and-a-half weeks for a mental health appointment at the Escondido clinic, but there are appointment slots left open for veterans with urgent needs. Patients can also be transferred to the Mental Health Access Clinic at the San Diego VA Medical Center for sooner appointments.

The new patient wait time for a mental health appointment at the clinic is also better than the county average wait time of 34.5 days.

Current patients at the Escondido VA clinic wait an average of one to two weeks for primary care or mental health appointments.

Note: This article is an update to the article “Escondido VA under investigation” published in the June 13, 2014 issue of The Coast News. Local representatives from the Escondido clinic could not be reached for comment last week.


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