Local VA patients bring complaints to surface

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been under fire in recent weeks and even though major problems aren't plaguing the Grand Junction VA Medical Center, some patients said they had negative experiences.

Larry Wilkinson said a VA doctor never called him with the test results of a foot infection and after two months of no news, he had to have his leg amputated.

"I feel the VA owes me a leg," Wilkinson said.

Another VA patient, Richard Worsley, said when he was showing symptoms of a heart attack, he was taken to St. Mary's even though he wanted to go to the VA Medical Center. He then received a bill for more than $8,000.

"I thought the VA sent me to St. Mary's as part of my health program of the VA and they were going to pick up the cost," Worsley said.

The Grand Junction VA Medical Center can't accept cardiac emergencies because it is a level two facility and doesn't have the proper resources. However, it also can't cover patient visits outside the VA when they aren't related to service.

"We don't make those determinations here locally," said Paul Sweeney, spokesperson for the Grand Junction VA Medical Center.

If VA patients have any complaints, they can talk to a patient advocate.

"It may be just something where it was a one off or there may be a pattern there, but if you don't come and tell us what happened, what's your concern's on, we really have no way to look into it." Sweeney said.

The medical center is in the process of hiring new providers after multiple providers left in recent months.

Also, even though the Grand Junction VA does have a waiting list with up to 200 people on it at a time, veterans with serious medical conditions can be pushed toward the top to receive necessary care sooner.

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