HELENA, Mont. -

Patients seeking care through the Fort Harrison Veterans Affairs Medical Center outside Helena are waiting an average of 48 days for their first appointment with a primary care doctor - more than three times longer than the department's goal of 14 days.

The VA now says that meeting that target was unattainable given existing resources and growing demand.

The Montana findings released Monday are part of a national audit ordered after a whistleblower claimed veterans were dying while waiting for care in Phoenix.

The VA audit also says facilities at Fort Harrison and in Billings are on a list of sites requiring further investigation.

It did not list wait times for the Billings clinic or say what prompted the follow-up at either facility.