Columbus veteran noticed improved VA clinic service - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus veteran notices improved VA clinic service after scandal

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Millions of Americans are learning about deficiencies in the VA healthcare system for the first time this month, but to Peter Farnsworth, it's old news.

"I'm totally blind in my left eye. My right eye focuses in and out like a camera lens, continuously," Farnsworth describes. 

He said his injuries are due to a fall that occurred in 1979 while he was being lifted by a helicopter, along with two generators that were being placed at a radar beacon.

"A cable snapped, and the whole thing came down about 40 feet," He recalls.  

Farnsworth was discharged from the Army following the accident, but he says finding employment with his condition has been difficult. Recently however, his biggest challenge has been finding a doctor.

"I went to the VA for help, and I was basically told, 'We'll get you an appointment.' I waited three years for that appointment," Farnsworth says. 

Since then, Farnsworth has been periodically checking on his status, and in December, he hired an attorney to get involved. But he says he didn't get an appointment to see a doctor until problems with the VA hospital in Phoenix started making headlines in the national news.  He doesn't think it's a coincidence.

"I've got five of them actually," He says. "I got five medical doctor appointments after the news broke."

We reached out to the clinic in Columbus, and they provided us with this response saying quote:

"The Department of Veterans Affairs takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously. This Department's most important mission is to make sure Veterans know VA is here to care for them - to provide the high quality care they have earned and deserve.

"Veterans must feel safe walking into our VA facilities, and VA employees must work continuously to provide them with the highest quality care. That is our standard—Veterans deserve to have full faith in their VA care.

"Where we have failed to meet those commitments we will redouble our efforts to deliver timely care to patients with compassion and integrity.  We will identify problems and resolve these issues expediently.  Together with VSOs, Congress and all VA stakeholders we will act with the best interests of Veterans at heart.  As was made clear this morning, VA is taking concrete steps towards that end – including initiation of accountability for senior leadership and elimination of performance awards for senior VHA leaders for Fiscal Year 2014."

While Farnsworth is glad to be seeing some results right now, he said he's not hopeful that it will continue. He listed a series of times when the VA came under fire over the past few decades, most recently recollecting the Walter Reed incident. His observation has been that service temporarily increases in reaction to these events, and then gradually regresses when the extra attention is gone.

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