July 9, 2014
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The Veterans Affairs Department has reached out to about 140,000 veterans over the last two months to help get them off wait lists and into medical centers to see doctors, according to an internal July 3 report.
The VA will release statistics on wait times at individual VA medical clinics twice monthly in the wake of recent findings that about 1,700 patients were kept on unofficial wait lists at a Phoenix VA hospital and were waiting 115 days on average for an appointment.
"As we continue to address systemic challenges in accessing care, these regular data updates enhance transparency and provide the most immediate information to veterans and the public on improvements to veterans' access to quality health care," Acting VA Director Sloan Gibson said in a statement about the report.
As of June 15, about 46,000 veterans waited at least 90 days for their first VA medical center appointments, down by nearly 11,000 from the prior month.
And 7,000 veterans were never able to get an appointment from a VA doctor despite seeking care from one, the department says.
In addition to outreach and scheduling, the VA has trained about 10,000 of its schedulers and allocated nearly $400 million to accelerate care for veterans, Gibson said in a separate June 27 meeting with President Obama.
In that statement, he says the VA is also taking action at some of the most challenged VA facilities, including hiring more support staff to help get veterans off wait lists and into clinics and deploying more mobile medical units for veterans awaiting care.
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