Virginia Beach Air Force vet with internal bleeding waits 10 weeks for crucial gastro procedure


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For the past several months, we’ve been telling you how the wait times at the Hampton VA Medical Center have been improving. But don’t try to convince Tajma Boykin of Virginia Beach.

The U.S. Air Force vet needs a colonoscopy to find out what is going on with her system. For nearly three months she has had internal bleeding. She told her VA doctors about it in April and tomorrow she will finally have the procedure.

Boykin says she is essentially a prisoner in her own home.

“If I’m eating anything, it’s straight to the bathroom,” she said.

She wants to know why she has blood in her stool and ongoing diarrhea. What’s worse: she’s anemic.

“Anything where I’m bleeding is bad for me,” she said.

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Her symptoms started in mid-April, and since then, she says she’s been to the emergency room eight times. That’s three times to the Hampton VA, five more to the emergency room at Sentara Leigh Hospital.

Boykin says she told her VA doctors about the problems April 17, and the soonest they could get her in was July 7. That’s a wait time of 81 days. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, the current wait time for a gastroenterology appointment is 32 days.

“I’m tired at this point. I feel frustrated, I’m angry because they’re supposed to be helping me and they’re not,” she said.

And the uncertainty is worse than the hassle of running to the bathroom.

“What if it could be cancer — and I’m praying to God that it isn’t — but what if it could be?” she said.

Boykin says her case proves the Hampton VA still has a long way to go, despite recent reports of better performance.

“I want to show them that this is not something to play around with. Our lives are not games,” she said.

Boykin will get her procedure Tuesday but she will have to go to the VA clinic in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. She had to wait more than 10 weeks for the appointment.

In a statement, the Hampton VA Medical Center said they have “been in contact with the veteran and are addressing her concerns. Our facility strives every day to ensure that our Nation’s heroes are served in a timely manner.”

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