Sunday, December 10, 2023

Meeting set between veterans, VA over concerns

Staff Writer | May 16, 2023 1:00 AM

After missing last month’s meeting, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has scheduled another appointment to connect with local veterans to discuss the issues that are happening with the new outreach clinic in Ponderay.

Last month, around a dozen veterans gathered inside Sandpoint’s VFW Hall to voice their concerns with how the clinic is being run. Many veterans said they constantly have to sit on hold on the phone for almost an hour to schedule an appointment before hanging up due to the wait times. Others complained about extremely incorrect diagnoses from doctors at the clinic, such as one veteran being told he had plantars warts when he really had a rare form of skin cancer.

However, VA officials were not there to hear those concerns and instead sent a brief letter stating another meeting would be scheduled at a later date. STGI International, which was hired by the VA to run the clinic, sent two representatives to the April meeting. They met with the veterans and wrote down each concern about things such as the long wait times and the misdiagnoses, guaranteeing those issues would be addressed and the veterans would receive answers.

Now, VA officials said they want to hear those concerns from veterans themselves so the issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently. VA medical center director Dr. Robert Fischer will be in attendance as well as other VA leadership staff connected to the Ponderay clinic. STGI representatives will also be there again to share previously-voiced concerns and answer any necessary questions.

The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Sandpoint Library, 1407 Cedar St., and is open to veterans and their families, officials and the public.

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