Shreveport-Bossier veterans struggle with VA's appointment syste - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Shreveport-Bossier veterans struggle with VA's appointment system

Shreveport Army Veteran Dr. Ed Gonzales demonstrates his recording of the VA's automated system telling him he had no appointments on Friday when he actually had two. (Source: Nick Lawton, KSLA) Shreveport Army Veteran Dr. Ed Gonzales demonstrates his recording of the VA's automated system telling him he had no appointments on Friday when he actually had two. (Source: Nick Lawton, KSLA)
SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) -

Some Shreveport-Bossier veterans say they have concerns about the VA's phone automated system for appointment reminders.

They say they're not receiving phone call reminders, raising the risk of them missing their appointments.

One Shreveport Army veteran, Ed Gonzales, said he's been having these problems with his appointments at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center (OBVAMC) in Shreveport for the last two years.

Gonzales recorded himself using the automated system, which it said he had no appointments through Saturday, July 8.

"I had two appointments today," Gonzales said after the recording played. "One at 9 and then one at 10:15."

The six-year Army veteran said he was able to make both appointments on Friday morning, despite a letter reminder only telling him about his 9 a.m. appointment.

"What's really bad for those folks that are out here that are from out of town, if they're calling in to see if they have an appointment and it says you don't have an appointment scheduled,  they don't show up and then what happens is they're considered a 'no-show,'" Gonzales said. "You do not want that on your record."

Other veterans like Bossier City's Richard Almond, whose years-long battle with pain has already been documented in January's KSLA News 12 Investigation back in January, told KSLA he sometimes asks for appointments at Overton Brooks for more than a month with no success.

According to the VA's website page regarding appointments, one of their goals is to ensure that veterans "should be able to see your primary care provider within thirty days or less."

OBVAMC Public Affairs Officer David Gasperson told KSLA Friday morning he would look into this issue and sent us this statement by the early afternoon:

We haven’t heard of any outages with our appointment reminder systems. There are occasions when the system may experience downtime, but we haven’t received any reports.

When a Veteran does not show up for their scheduled appointment and does not call in advance to reschedule, it prevents another Veteran from taking that appointment time. This is also called a missed opportunity. Missed opportunities occur when the appointment is canceled by the Veteran or no-showed after the scheduled time. If missed opportunities can be minimized or avoided, wait times improve. 

One way that we help Veterans keep track of their appointment dates, is by encouraging them to enroll into MyHealtheVet . MyHealtheVet allows Veterans to view their upcoming appointments, certain test results, and communicate directly with their Primary Care Team. 

Veterans can receive an automated call reminder from the VA reminding them of their scheduled appointment if a current telephone number listed in their record. If Veterans need to update their information they can call the toll-free number 1-800-644-8370 or 318-990-5547 and follow the prompts to learn of their next scheduled appointments. 

Veterans may also contact their Primary Care Team directly or call the call center at 800-644-8370 to learn of their next appointment or schedule appointments as appropriate.

Gonzales said he doesn't have any problems with his care at Overton Brooks and he will try out the online option soon but he still wants VA leaders to improve the system for those older veterans who don't have access to technology.

"I need that automation system, not just for myself but for others, especially our senior vets," he said.

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