Wait times at VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus, which serves more than 40,000 veterans statewide, haven’t been a concern.

Allegations that long waits at the VA hospital in Phoenix may have resulted in up to 40 deaths and a cover-up have led to investigations of other VA hospitals for similar problems, but not at Togus.

In fiscal year 2013, more than 98 percent of established primary-care patients – those treated at the hospital before – got appointments within 14 days of requesting them, said Togus spokesman James Doherty.

The average wait time for new patients, about 10 percent of the total, grew from 24 days in 2012 to 30 in 2013.

Doherty blamed the increase on provider turnover at the hospital, because new patients must be placed with doctors and their initial appointments are longer on average. But urgent cases are expedited, he said.

“If it’s a new patient and they have a serious condition that they need to be in for, it’s not going to be 30 days,” Doherty said.

John Hargreaves, commander of the American Legion in Maine, said he hasn’t heard complaints about wait times at Togus or experienced them himself – he’s a 60 percent disabled veteran who gets primary care there.

“I would say that we’re lucky in Maine,” he said. “Togus is a relatively well-run organization and in the long-term past, there haven’t been any significant issues.”

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

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