WASHINGTON — The average wait times for new patients seeking mental health care or specialist care at the VA Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia, are among the longest in the nation, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs audit released Monday.
The average wait for mental health care at the Clarksburg VA is 96 days, second only to Durham, North Carolina. The average wait for specialist care at Clarksburg is 86 days, fourth highest in the nation.
And the average wait time for a new patient seeking a primary care appointment was 54 days — nearly four times what the VA had set as a goal.
VA guidelines, since abandoned, had said 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.
Monday’s audit by the VA called the 2011 decision by senior VA officials to set it, and then to base bonuses on meeting the target, an “organizational leadership failure.”
Other VA facilities in West Virginia also are exceeding that goal. Martinsburg’s wait time is 47 days; Beckley’s is 39 days; Huntington’s is just under 29 days.