Long wait times for VA Audiology appointments

I’ve been wearing hearing aids since the late 90’s. I started with an outside provider but switched to the VA about 2013 when I became aware that they provided hearing aids to veterans. From the time I started with the VA until Covid started up around March of last year the service at my local VA was just fantastic in regards to audiology. Once Covid hit everything really went downhill. I tried last week to get an appointment for a hearing test since I haven’t had one in 4 years. I’m also hoping to get new hearing aids since it’s been 4 years with my Oticon OPN’s. The first available appointment is in January 2022, four months away. I asked about maybe getting in to the nearest outlying clinic which is a longer drive but not too bad. The earliest available appt there is mid November so I accepted it.

Have things gotten this bad everywhere in the VA system? Just out of curiosity I stopped by my local Costco and the first available appointment there is late October. Just to be clear, my OPN’s are working well, I’m really just looking to upgrade. I do have difficulty with noisy situations and see from reading through the forum here that the More’s may be much better for me.

Are things this backed up everywhere? Thanks.

I can’t answer if the VA system has a backlog for audiology appointments
but I can answer about my Costco’s wait experience. I’m in northern Indiana, when my husband called my local Costco’s 25 miles away to book a new hearing test appointment and to purchase new hearing aids the wait time was a mere 14 days! Unfortunately due to my husband’s schedule it was cancelled I thought it was Costco’s untill my husband said no I had to cancel due to work so the next wait period was just under 3 weeks that was faster than my first appointment with Costco’s 3.5 years ago I had to wait 4 odd months. My first available fitting appointment is in 13 days followed by another fitting appointment exactly 13 days later they were prebooked today when I purchased my hearing aids and the turnaround for custom moulds on the RICs is about 10 days at this point as advised by my HIS So I think it’s dependant on the area you live I did ask if it’s been busier due to everything reopening slowly and my HIS said that it’s been a bit slower than they are used to so appointment wait times for that particular store are shorter. I can vouch it has been very quiet at the hearing aid center whenever I’ve visited in the last year there been very few people compared to 4 years ago.

Not a VA patient but I had to wait 6 weeks for a test from the local University med school (it’s a big one) and the waiting rooms were obviously built for more than me and the 3 other peoplewaiting. Then, my appointment with the fitter was 31/2 months (mid October). Costco was 4 weeks for the test but they can get me inagain if I order in 2 weeks. Several private offices I have visited were less than 1 week wait time and they were not busy looking.

I haven’t noticed a problem with the Durham VA. Just had a hearing test and received my new More 1. Setting the test up was about a six week wait which has always been pretty standard and it too 4 week for them to come in, which is also pretty standard. This wouldn’t apply for testing but my Audi told me one of the perks that has come out of covid is the ability to request a video appt for programming changes. Prior to covid they wouldn’t even consider remote appts.

The issue is the rules in place due to the virus is slowing appointments down and causing long waits. I was to have an eye appointment on September 3 and it got pushed to November 30. I am waiting to get in to see my Audiologist to get my aids firmware updates. It is be cautious but overly so.

My friend had to wait 14 months to get new Aids but that’s on the NHS in the UK/England.

Well with the pandemic once again seemingly out of control long delays more and more about becoming common. Ps. Do they have a VA in England?

Thanks to all for the feedback. It does appear that at my local VA that they have overreacted to the covid situation and are too inflexible.

A second question: Is the VA still using four years as a standard for upgrading to new hearing aids? My VA audiologist told me about a year ago that I would be eligible for new aids at four years. However when I called in last week to schedule the appointment I mentioned in my original post the person I talked to told me they are no longer using four years as a standard. She said they will not necessarily upgrade me unless I’m having problems.

The VA will, indeed upgrade your HA’s , even earlier than 4 years.
I upgraded from the Oticon OPN to the OPN S after 3 years, because my hearing test indicated my hearing loss had increased.
I wore the OPN S for 1 year, and had ongoing issues, so I just got the Oticon More.
Just be persistant when you do get your appt., and remember the person you spoke to is just a clerk.

As others have mentioned, COVID has caused a lot of delays.
Long Beach, CA, is about 1 month to 6 weeks.

My VA audiologist has updated me from OPN1, to OPNS1, to More1 aids for the time from November 2018 to June 2021. Which totally surprised me but it has taken me from about 75% word recognition with the OPN1 aids to over 90% with the More1 aids. And yes I had been really pushing for better speech understanding

Couple of things about wait time at VA. Depends on your priority as I am combat disabled Vietnam vet so I never have any wait time over 2 weeks for anything including hearing.

Second, I believe most VA hearing clinics have posted hours for walk in hours for urgent needs such as adjustments.

Best way to deal with VA is to have a primary care you can deal ,with especially with the secure email system. But lots don’t want to get involved with too much VA care except to pick and choose what they need like hearing, eyes, etc.

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I’m not sure that my hearing has changed much. Mainly I just want updated aids since it’s been 4 years. Thanks for the input. You are right the person I spoke to was a scheduler (clerk).

Yes my hearing loss is service related and I get a small disability. I can easily email my care teams and directly to my Audiologist. It really helps.

That’s primarily what I want, better understanding of speech. Thank you for the input.

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When it comes to my hearing I email my Audiologist and if it needed one of the schedulers calls me to set an appointment. The clinic here is small so no walk in clinic at this time.

I am Priority One. Doesn’t seem to be doing me much good. My VA used to have a walk in clinic and it was great. That went away when Covid started last March. Here everything is by appointment now except for hearing aid repairs and they have a drop box for that. If the aid is not working right you put the aid in a drop box and they either fix it or mail it to Denver to be fixed and then send it back to you when it’s repaired. I had to do this last summer and was without the aids for two months. I do get my primary care through the VA and they do a pretty good job now that I have switched to an outlying clinic. I just switched my Audiology to the outlying clinic also. Hopefully things will improve but they still cant get to me until mid November. Thank you for the reply.

I am a cat 1 and it basically means nothing when I call for an appointment. They are not going to bump a previously made appt to get me in, which they shouldn’t anyway. It is what it is. If your clinic caters to a la4ger group of veterans your wait times are going to be longer. Just a fact of life.

When I recently had my testing appt after two years I was told 4yrs was still being used but that depended on ea indiv needs. I had the OPN S1 that was two years old. My Audi told me since I had no backups that she would order me the More 1’s and I could use the S1 as backups.

Now I need to set up a video appt so that I can get them adjusted. This is one of the perks that has come out to covid. Prior to covid they would not do remote adjustments.

There’s no VA, but the Royal British Legion is a very well financed charity that provides all manner of support to former military personnel. They also have access to the Veterans Hearing Fund which is designed to address more specific hearing needs.

This is above and beyond the basic free provision on the NHS which is available to all people; though admittedly the speed/flexibility of the service hasn’t been improved by Covid restrictions, so delays are common.

My remark was made in jest. Now I’m sorry I said anything

Loose the hearing aids. If they are lost the VA has to replace them. Easy solution to get new aids. You did not mention which VA you go to. This way others will know not to go there.