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Doctor shortage at Stockton VA clinic leaves some waiting months to get appointment

Lack of doctors leaves veterans waiting months to get medical help in Stockton
Lack of doctors leaves veterans waiting months to get medical help in Stockton 02:29

STOCKTON -- A doctor shortage at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Stockton is resulting in long wait times to see a doctor.

The problem has gotten so bad that some veterans there are calling it a crisis.

The clinic started with eight doctors at the start of the year, and now they're down to just four. The reason for the shortage is unclear, but it's resulting in veterans waiting months to get an appointment to see a doctor.

The long wait time also has some people waiting months for much-needed medication. 

Robert Ortega, the first vice of the Ed Stewart Post of Stockton and Army Veteran, spoke on behalf of Stockton veterans, saying he and others are frustrated and losing hope.

"We need help. That's all we ask, help," Ortega said.

The shortage comes on the heels of a new VA hospital being built in Stockton. It is scheduled to open next year.

Rep. Josh Harder (D) says the facility only helps solve half the problem.

"All the fancy real estate in the world won't help us if those are empty exam rooms that we can't fill with doctors," Rep. Harder said.

Harder is also working on gaining support to help fund VA clinics nationwide, but says the VA needs to do something now to fill the gap.

"Bring in more doctors from Sacramento, Palo Alto, the other two big VA clinics in our region, and they need to do that immediately." 

CBS13 has reached out to the Office of Veteran Affairs regarding the shortage but we have not yet received a response.

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