OPB’s Public Insight Network journalist Amanda Peacher reached out to our listeners to see what they thought. We received a dozen responses about the care provided by VA hospitals in Oregon.
Here is a sampling of the answers that OPB received from the query:
Generally it’s pretty good as basic care. It’s just so hard to get into the system: You have to wait awhile for care, but even the clinic in Richland is not bad. The worst part is everything is preexisting conditions.
-Michael Luzzo, Kennewick
The care I’ve had has been better than what I’ve been hearing about — other than the occasionally ridiculously long waits for certain appointments. The doctors I’ve dealt with have all been very attentive, but it’s very apparent that they’re all stretched too thin by the huge amount of patients they see every day. The waiting room of the pharmacy alone is constantly full.
It’s just a guess based on my own reliance due to cost, but I would say that the vast majority of patients at the VA wouldn’t have the option of healthcare were it not for their service related coverage.
-Brian Auker, Portland
I had an appointment today after a waiting period of a few days. I was put on a home health monitoring system and send in vitals every day. If they do not look right, the nurse calls me on the phone. You can’t get better than that.
-Harley Sachs, Portland
I have had friends who have had to rely on the VA. I have visited them at VA facilities. Their experiences with the VA system have ranged from unpleasant to awful. The system is overloaded. It is poorly managed and its employees often seem overwhelmed or indifferent. VA medical care is a last resort.
-John Driscoll, Bend
So far I’ve had positive experiences with the VA. I’ve not had long delays in waiting for appointments at the VA hospital in Portland, and the one time I had to go to the emergency room at the VA in Phoenix, I was seen right away. In fact when I attempted to blow off an appointment at the Portland VA, they called that very same day to reschedule me.
-Sabrina Messenger, Corvallis
I have had great care from the VA, including the most thorough eye exams ever. Although you can’t usually just walk in, I have not had excessive wait times to be seen by a doctor.
I get all my prescriptions from the VA at about $8 a pop. The drugs come by mail in large quantities, which means I don’t need to renew as often. The VA fills prescriptions from my personal physician.
Overall I am quite satisfied with the care I get from the VA.
-Paul Millius, Portland
I have extensive experience with VA in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento) and Portland including the clinic in Hillsboro. I have not had difficulties accessing the system, and the wait times I have experienced — while longer than many non-VA systems — has not been unreasonable, considering the degree of urgency associated with my issues.
-Michael Gallagher, Hillsboro
Wonderful people there. I have no complaints about the people. The phone system is a disaster. I have had to be out of touch for days., but I could handle it. My health is not that fragile. I have been nearly driven loopy by the computer phone tree recycling station. After a computer says: “Your call is important to us” 20 times … What is your take away?
-David Bean, Portland