VA apologizes for Army veteran's mammogram delay

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it's a great reminder for women to get their yearly mammograms. However, one Army veteran in Houston says she's been trying to get her checkup for months but has not received approval to do so. So she reached out to Action 13 for help.

She went through the proper steps and the doctor ordered the mammogram for her. But there was just one road block preventing her from getting that check up.

Yolande Shields says getting her yearly mammogram is something she's always done.

"I just wanted to make sure that everything is OK, just like in previous years," she said.

Shields is a veteran of the U.S. Army, and receives benefits through the VA to get that yearly checkup.

"My doctor put the request in for August 11th of this year. And she told me it would take at least 30 days to approve it," she said.

But 30 days came and went. So Shields starting making calls to inquire about it with the VA.

"I left four detailed messages, no response," Shields said.

Frustration building, Shields says she went there in person to find out the status.

"So I left another message with one of the clerks at the Women's Center. No response," she said. "Then I was told to contact patient advocate. Left two messages with them, no response."

So Shields reached out to us to see if we could get to the bottom of what was happening. When we reached out to the VA they said:

"The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center made some changes to our mammogram authorization process this past summer. A few weeks ago it came to our attention that as a result of these changes, some Veteran consults were not being acted upon in a timely manner. In response, the Medical Center immediately made modifications to the process that will prevent this issue from happening again in the future...

We regret the inconvenience experienced by Ms. Shields and want all Veterans to know that this is not indicative of the care we provide."

The VA also said that it doesn't have an exact number yet on those affected, however they're reviewing each and every mammogram order initiated over the past several months to make sure there's no one waiting. That review is scheduled to be completed next week.

As for Shields, she tells us someone called her with the approval, and is now scheduled to get her check up this Friday.
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