Vet: 'We're afraid to come to VA for treatment'

Posted at 8:55 PM, Oct 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-02 20:55:58-04

CINCINNATI – An  Army veteran says he waited nearly six hours at Cincinnati's VA Hospital to get treatment of heart attack symptoms.

Brad Hoffmeister, of Fort Thomas, Ky.,  complained to WCPO that wait times are no better than before a national scandal broke at an Arizona VA hospital two years ago.

"We're afraid to come to the VA for treatment … because we know nothing's going to get done," Hoffmeister said.

In this case, the father of three wasn't going to take a chance that the sharp pains in his chest would pass.

"My chest was palpating really hard. I was having shortness of breath and sharp pains in my chest. On top of that I had a severe migraine," Hoffmeister said.

But the ER told him to wait, he said.

"Blood pressure was 153 over 135 – blood pressure through the roof," he said.

He said it would be more than an hour before he saw anyone -- and 4-1/2 hours until he got any treatment.

"By that time, I could barely see. I had my eyes completely shut," he said.

Frustrated, he filed a complaint created a Facebook page where veterans could talk about their issues with the medical service.

Veterans posted dozens of stories like his citing wait times even longer.

We asked the Cincinnati VA why the wait times were so long and we're still waiting on an answer. But VA clinics nationwide have shown histories of long wait times and dissatisfaction.

Just last year, the office of the inspector general launched an investigation of VA hospitals. Cincinnati's VA was rated three-stars in quality, grading in the red for care of pneumonia, health care-related infections and congestive heart failure.

READ the report on the Cincinnati VA hospital here or below

In January, nurses at the VA picketed in front of the hospital, saying they didn't have the staff and tools to treat their patients right.

"There's two or three patients that just got up and left and they said they were just tired of waiting that night," said Hoffmeister. "II said, 'Where are you going to go?' Because we have to go to the VA because we can't afford to go elsewhere."

Things need to change, said Hoffmeister

"I'm going to have to go elsewhere to save my life." 

While the VA didn't tell us why Hoffmeister had to wait so long, they did give us average wait times.  They say patients are triaged within 14 minutes and are seen within 30 minutes. The  hospital said it recently hired three nurses and a nurse practitioner.