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Veteran says he can't see a doctor

Why PACT 17 doesn't have a PCP...and what the VA is doing about it.

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

A veteran says he has suffered through 2018 without any prescription medication because he says he has been unable to see a doctor.

Seven-On-Your-Side is trying to get him some help.

Buddy Person says that when his country needed him he joined the U.S. Navy at age 18 without hesitation.

Now, when he is the one in need, he says the delay is almost too great to bear.

Because of a degenerative disc disease, Buddy cannot move his head from side to side without searing pain shooting down his neck and across his shoulders.

"So how long have you been without medication for your pain?"

"Oh boy...probably...since December," says Person.

Person served in the U.S. Navy during the early 80's.

Part of the benefit of his service is lifetime health care through the VA.

The VA assigned him to Pact 17...one of 44 “Patient Aligned Care Teams” in central Arkansas that help organize care.

The problem: Pact 17 is currently without a primary care physician.

"It was going good up until the last six months...five or six months...because they tell me they have no doctors assigned to our group," says Person.

This year the VA instituted a new policy to help with physican shortages that are predicted to only get worse. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) are now allowed to assess, diagnose and prescribe medication to veterans.

A spokesperson says that the VA is in the process of hiring a full-time APRN for Pact 17.

In the meantime the RN serving Pact 17 is supposed to be working with staff from other pacts to serve veterans like Buddy. But Buddy says that isn't happening.

"I'm sure I'm not the only veteran in Arkansas that needs to see a doctor,” surmises Buddy. “In that PACT...I'm sure they are going through the same thing I am."

We have provided the VA with Buddy's contact information and they will be working with him directly now to help resolve his complaint. As for when a new provider will be in position for Pact 17...there is no timetable.

The U.S. will need more than 50 thousand more primary care physicians by the year 2025, yet only eight percent of med students choose primary care specialties.

Air date: May 30th, 2018

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