VA Secretary Visits Columbus Clinic, Talks Improving Care

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Secretary Robert McDonald walked the halls of the Columbus VA Clinic. Cameras were not allowed inside the closed door meetings he had with clinic staff through Tuesday afternoon.

10 Investigates opened some doors while revealing a federal investigation highlighting treatment problems with the Columbus prosthetics department.

But veterans continue to tell 10 Investigates they face several month delays in getting their claims answered for service related injuries.

We have had a backlog of disability claims for some time. That backlog has been at record levels,” said Secretary McDonald. "Our commitment is to get that down to zero by the end of the year."

Veterans are now given what's called a "Choice Card." That allows some living outside Columbus to see doctors in their area.

"What we're finding is, the wait in the private care arena is long or longer than the VA care here in Columbus, so veterans are choosing not to go outside," said Secretary McDonald.

Veterans tell 10 Investigates they have problems with the lack of complete medical coverage at the Columbus VA Clinic. The nearest VA Hospital is in Dayton. Secretary McDonald says they are focusing on finding doctors outside the VA system to see patients.

There are no current plans to expand the Columbus clinic into a hospital.

Secretary McDonald explained, "As we do that over time, if the patient population keeps growing, we'll have to take other steps. But that's the direction we're taking right now."

Secretary McDonald will speak at The Ohio State University Wednesday. He's hoping to recruit medical students to work for the VA Medical system.

10 Investigates continues to examine veteran’s problems with their care at the VA. Let us know your VA concerns at 10TV.com/10investigates