National audit shows McGuire VA wait time up to 72 days - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

National audit shows McGuire VA wait time up to 72 days

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The McGuire VA Medical Center has been flagged for further review and investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The information was released today in a long awaited national audit.

Update: McGuire VA Medical Center has issued a response to the audit by the Department of Veterans Affairs that flagged the hospital for further review.

The statement reads, "Richmond VA Medical Center is honored to serve our Nation's Heroes. This facility serves as a referral center for several major programs within VA and DoD. 

The SAIL data that released today is a benchmarking tool VA utilizes for performance improvement .

The wait time for new patients requesting primary care has been and continues to be a focus of our staff. We continue to address this through adding new staff members, additional clinic appointments, and rural health outreach initiatives.

Findings from the original audit were inconclusive and requires additional review.  IG will determine how and when the follow up review is completed. There is no additional information about the follow-up.

By setting metrics such as these, we are better able to direct our continuous effort to improve."

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs says more than 57,000 patients are still waiting for initial medical appointments at VA hospitals and clinics 90 days or more after requesting them. An additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never had appointments.

The department says an audit of 731 VA hospitals and large outpatient clinics found that the agency's complicated appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks and supervisors.

Also notable in this audit, 13 percent of VA schedulers nationwide reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter.

Locally, the wait time for new patients seeking a primary care doctor at the VA Center in Richmond is more than 72 days.  That's roughly five times what the VA had set as a goal.

New patients were supposed to be seen within 14 days-- that's since been abandoned. The department says meeting that target was just not realistic given the existing resources and growing demand. 

McGuire is not alone in this audit.  In Hampton, Virginia, the average wait time is just under 58 days for new patients. In Salem, the average wait is 34 ½ days.

Both McGuire and the facility in Virginia Beach have been flagged by the agency for further review and investigation.

The report is available on the department's web site.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

 

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