Vets question Albany's VA clinic's service, VA disputes claim -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Vets question Albany's VA clinic's service, VA disputes claims

Claims are made of inadequate and poor quality care at the privately run VA Clinic in Albany.

Several veterans tell us it takes months to set up appointments and prescriptions aren't filled when they're needed.  Some even say their medical records have been lost.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs disputes the claims.

We spent several days investigating the claims. Veterans say, since Sterling Medical took over the Albany clinic, they've had nothing but problems and many veterans are leaving the state to seek care at other VA facilities. The VA says they're aware of the concerns but feel they're meeting the needs.

In April, John Griffin had a heart attack. A former Vietnam helicopter pilot, a lot of his care has been through the VA Clinic in Albany and it hasn't been easy. His most recent battle, a needed prescription.

"The medication is required for the type of stint I had inserted, now I have the paper work, it's very very funny I have the paperwork from the Veterans Administration telling me that this is service connected that this medicine should be used and I have the clinic here refusing to do anything about it," said John Griffin, a Vietnam Veteran.

He's had to pay out of pocket.

"I've already spent over $600, three months and nothing's been done yet," Griffin.

John Griffin is fortunate to have the money, but others aren't, leaving them few choices if they need a prescription today.

"Drive to Dublin or see if there's room on the bus to go to Dublin and spend all day or they have to go to a private clinic or private pharmacy and pay for their prescription," said Griffin.

In fact instead of coming to the clinic here in Albany we had to catch up with one of the Veterans on the road seeking medical care in Florida.

"The service is so poor, I chose to go to another facility.

Benny Wilson has had all of his medical records transferred from Albany's clinic to Lake City, Florida because of the service he received.

"My appointment I would get, I was getting an appointment six months later if I got the appointment any at all. Then they would send me to Dublin and I would get to Dublin and my appointment would be canceled," said Wilson.

Sterling Medical, a private company holds the contract to run the V-A Clinic in Albany. When we contacted Sterling Medical in Albany and their office in Cincinnati, Ohio clinic we got no response to our story. We were able to reach the VA Medical Center Public Affairs Office in Dublin.

In a printed statement, they say access to healthcare at all facilities is their top priority. Their goal is to schedule every veteran for an appointment within 14 days of their desired date. They claim, the Albany Clinic exceeds this goal with 99 percent of the Veterans being seen in this window. Veterans are notified 48 hours before their appointment. They explained their pharmacy system, saying they have a list of drugs approved for use nationally, but try to work with patients is a prescribed drug isn't on the list.

After our initial calls to the VA, John Griffin was called by the VA for an appointment Friday, that's him sitting in the waiting room. Afterward, the VA said he's pleased with the outcome, but Griffin told us, his prescription issue remains unresolved. Griffin says, in past complaints, he found he had to start over with the VA.

"The whole status of my disability was virtually erased and had to be reestablished," said Griffin.

He's still skeptical this issue will be resolved and remains concerned why at least on three occasions he's been scheduled for appointments, but was never notified.

Congressman Sanford Bishop's office is also looking into complaints about the Albany Veterans Clinic.

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