PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — On the same day Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki resigned from his post due to long wait times and poor handling of veterans medical care across America, one Washington man is still waiting for surgery from the Portland VA hospital.
The average wait time for new patients at the Portland Veterans Affairs hospital is 56 days.
Veteran Emmanuel “Bud” Hajek suffers from severe back pain, but was told he must wait four months until he can meet with a surgeon.
Hajek said he is frustrated by the care he’s getting from the Portland VA.
“We’re very aware of those challenges,” said Dan Herrigstad of the Portland Veterann’s Affairs Hospital. “The wait is much longer than it should be.”
But, he said the delays in care, and the understaffing of medical professionals have not directly caused any deaths.
“There’s no indication that any wait times wiht the Portland VA has led to any fatalities,” he said.
The Portland VA will open new facilities in Salem and Vancouver, and plans to hire 20 more primary care providers in the next four-to-six months.
Still, Hajek’s wife, Belinda Hajek, said they can no longer depend on Veteran’s Affairs to relieve “Bud” of his back pain. Hajek is constantly in pain and has difficulty walking, she said.
“We’re going to have to go to an emergency room, but it will not be the VA,” she said.
“We’re going to use my husband’s medicare and go to a hospital her local[ly] and see if they can’t help us.”
Each year, the Portland VA hospital cares for 85,000 veterans, and arranges 880,000 appointments.