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VA Director Talks Lengthy Wait Times

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Marisa Demarco / KUNM
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The Associated Press looked at data from medical facilities for veterans around the U.S. and reported that four in New Mexico were among the worst when it comes to long waits for appointments. 

Veterans using VA clinics in Farmington, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, and the hospital in Albuquerque, might be waiting a long time for health care. Those facilities were near the top of the AP’s list, with Farmington coming in No. 6—out of 940. 

New Mexico’s VA Health Care System Director Andrew Welch said the issue isn’t money, and in fact, millions have come to the state in recent months. "Some of the money was spent to start the process of hiring more providers where we had some gaps," he said. "As you know, when we get those providers it takes a while to get them up to speed."

Welch says the VA will add a physician in Rio Rancho and might add another in Farmington, where today there are two.

Veterans with appointments scheduled out 30 days or more in the future can call a new hotline at 505-222-3351, and the VA will work to provide assistance and options. 

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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