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I haven't used them in 18 years but I read they were making the computer system nationwide. Best to check with the VA where you got your ID. If you haven't done that yet, call the nearest one and get scheduled for the newcomer's intake brief and picture ID.

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I fear it is not going to be as simple as you would hope based on my limited experience. I mainly use VA in Memphis and in Albq. and even that has issues.  I hope you or someone else finds a better way in the system but I won't be holding my breath.  How well it works will depend on your basic health and having some type of base even if it is extended visits to loved ones.  They will want you to  have a primary doc at some location that you will see once or twice a year if you don't have major issues. If you have to be scheduled for any follow up stuff it can take a while to deal with other than simple lab tests, X-rays etc.  I had melanoma and it took almost 2 months to work my way to surgery.  Last year I started trying to get  a hernia worked on in early Nov and finally had surgury on March 23  with 2 follow up visits up to a little more than a month later.  (on one of those scheduled visits they literally forgot me in the waiting room and everyone almost left even though I checked at the desk at least every 30 min) but don't worry about that since the president-s and congress are absolutely going to fix this, I know because they all say so.)

Sorry about that last part,  no not really but I hope you have good luck with your care and I have had some excellent care at the VA along the crappy parts and screw-ups.

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I recently found out the VA had opened a CBOC not far from our upstate NY "exit plan" cottage. I had not registered with the VA previously because the facilities were too far away for timely service. I have now registered and was assigned to Priority Group 6, but have not had an initial visit to the clinic yet. I'm hoping I can also have my photo taken there for my ID card. The closest VA hospital is a 100 mile round trip. I'm not planning on dropping my existing low cost Medicare advantage plan and current doctors, but I do want to explore with the VA clinic folks how I can best coordinate the two services. If that's not workable, then I'll probably just use the VA as a catastrophic backup if needed,

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12 hours ago, bigjim said:

I fear it is not going to be as simple as you would hope based on my limited experience.

I would strongly agree with Jim's statements. I found it to be great up until I needed some emergency care. The result of that is a long, unhappy story.

11 hours ago, Dutch_12078 said:

I recently found out the VA had opened a CBOC not far from our upstate NY "exit plan" cottage.

I will caution you about the "outpatient" system. I was very happy with mine as long as my only need was my annual physical and maintenance medications. I even had a few minor sick call visits that were satisfactory. Last fall I was suddenly ill enough to visit an emergency room outside of the VA system because our location is more than 2 hours from the nearest VA hospital. In treatment I had a catheter put in. The ER visit was followed by a visit to my primary care doctor (actually only saw the nurse) and was given antibiotics and an order to see a urologist. The primary care doctor would do nothing more for me. The earliest date that they would/could get me to see any urologist in the VA or outside the VA was nearly 2 months away and I needed to travel about 90 miles to see him(leaving me with the catheter). I have now left the VA system and returned to Medicare and a Medigap policy where I can get care when needed. 

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Thanks, Kirk... I have no plans to drop my existing Medicare/Advantage plan coverage at this point. As I said, if I can't find an acceptable balance between the two systems, I'll just consider the VA a backup plan and stay with my existing doctors, etc.

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My new primary is far better than the one I had previously and his immediate staff. One thing that helps  is using myhealthevet to communicate.  They are just seeing so many people it can be difficult to fit U in and some clinic within the system are backed up worse than others. Ortho is usually one of them. My situation now would make it difficult to disengage but I would likely do it if I could but every situation is different. In general being with the VA has been better in dealing with taking warfarin and being monitered by the "coumadin" clinic but the reason is I also have medicare which means I can get a "Standing Order" for labs that I can use almost anywhere and medicare picks up the tab. If not I would have to go to a VA lab and that doesn't work well if you are not  registered in that particular VA hospital system. IE:   Albq, Memphis, Dallas. etc. 

There is supposed to be someone at each hospital that helps facilitate things for traveling veterans but I have never dealt with them so don't know much about how it works. 

I bitch about a lot in the VA and praise them a lot. It is no easy task to run that type of set-up. I have found that some of the problems that come up are caused by rules put in by our Congress critters that give the VA no leeway plus the fear of politcal castigation for show then oversight goes away when the public are not up in arms.  But don't get me wrong the serious screw ups still fire me up.

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8 hours ago, bigjim said:

I have found that some of the problems that come up are caused by rules put in by our Congress critters that give the VA no leeway plus the fear of politcal castigation for show then oversight goes away when the public are not up in arms.

I would place most of the problems as the fault of Congress and the main problem is funding. None of us want increased taxes, but I suspect that will be the only real answer to this and a host of other budget issues.

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Kirk

Sorry to hear of your experience.  Wearing a catheter is not high on the fun scale.  I do not think more money will fix the VA.  A fair amount of my training was in the VA system - San Diego, Milwaukee, Durham.  Attitude of the staff is a bigger issue.  Not all, but enough to be a real issue.  I am VA eligible (USAF).  I have told my wife that if I ever become conscious in a VA hospital, she is in trouble.

 

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On 7/17/2018 at 10:32 AM, jdhm said:

New to VA. Is there a way to register so I do not have to register again at every different VA clinic?

Thank you, 

J.D. 

In my experience no there is not.  I believe it is tied to funding per assigned patient at Each facility.  We have been asked to register each time.  We have also used the travel coordinator at out VA home to get appointments at different VA clinics, but the process can be slow.

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One very important thing about the perceived efficiency of the VA is your status as being military connected disabilities, and percentage of disability. And type, combat or non combat. They will put the higher ratings first and all the others after.

I've heard some disturbing things about political beliefs being used to demote people. But too political to discuss here. Feel free to email me if anyone wants links. I keep an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out!  

 

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I concur with RV on the first point about if you are service connected combat related you may get preference and in some respects I would agree with that at the very least in principal as long as everyone get needed care.

I suspect he may be right on the his second point at least to some degree and may vary by location and the manangers they work under.

I also agree mostly with fly2low.  Attitude makes a huge difference but I have seen some that had a good attitude but were still not capable for the postition they are in.

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  • 1 month later...

Some of these comments make it sound like the naysayers don't believe the VA doctors actually went to medical school. I have yet to meet an MD who earned a degree at one of those silly online colleges.... They go to college, med school, and serve a residency BEFORE they opt to work for the VA. There isn't a "VA Doctor medical school" and a "Real Doctor medical school". 

I have been in the VA medical system for 20 years and have had exactly one bad experience, and that was due to me objecting to a caregiver of a different nationality because it was difficult to understand her through her accent. I get care for diabetes and a knee injury, both a result of Vietnam service. My care has been fine. If you drop a log on your foot a break a toe, that is so far removed from being service related that I don't even know how to address that situation.

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All I can say is if you have only had one bad experience you are very fortunate indeed. I have had some very good care there and more than I should have of poor care. The same could happen with "civilian" Dr's but probably wouldn't go on so long before you made a switch. Some problems at the VA are caused by rules imposed by the folks we elect. Also the shear number of vets needing care. They are not geared well to deal with folks that move much which must make it even harder to deal with homeless vets. A lot of the "Dr's" we are seeing are physians assistants and nurse practitioners and I have had great care through them and poor care from a minority of them.

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I have nothing but good to say about my VA doctor, until he retired... LOL.  He earned it, but he was VERY good and treated me very well.  The Dr that replaced him had lots of trouble getting along with vets, even drove a few away.  Saying that, I absolutely love her.  She has treated me quite well herself.  Our clinic has PAs also, I was just lucky and got assigned to her.  I think the biggest problem the vets had with her, is it's a her.  I could see some not liking her accent, hard to understand at times, but I will not hold that against her, she's been good to me.  The hosp., 1.5 hour away, can be hard to get into, but there are a lot of vets here.  I see the biggest problem with the VA system is the Bull**** politicians messing with $$ and regulations, hand cuffing what they can do/provide to vets.  It has got better, but has a long ways to go.  IMHO

I lost a friend a couple years ago, he depended on the VA system.  He could not get the care he needed very fast which ended up costing him his life.  I don't blame the VA, sorta, but the politicians that refused to fund the VA properly.  The hosp. was overwhelmed with patients and not enough Drs and beds to care for the huge population of vets.  By the time they could get to him, send him to a civilian hosp, it was too late.

Edited by NDBirdman
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