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New Anchorage VA patients face average 29-day wait

Posted: June 9, 2014 - 9:04pm

JUNEAU — The vast majority of medical appointments for veterans were scheduled within 14 days at the Alaska Veterans Health Care System in Anchorage, a federal audit released Monday showed.

Release of the Department of Veterans Affairs audit follow reports of problems, including delayed medical care, at VA facilities around the country.

On May 15, the Veterans Health Administration had more than 6 million appointments scheduled across the system. According to the audit’s findings, more than 57,000 veterans were waiting to be scheduled for care and nearly 64,000 who had enrolled in the health care system over the last 10 years but had not been seen for an appointment.

In Alaska, the audit looked at the Anchorage facility, whose services, according to its website, include primary, specialty and mental health outpatient care. Of nearly 6,300 appointments scheduled, 6,050 were made within 14 days.

The audit found there were nearly 40 new patients for whom appointments could not be scheduled in 90 days or fewer.

Nearly 140 newly enrolled veterans had requested an appointment during the enrollment process during the past 10 years and had not had an appointment scheduled, the audit found.

The average wait time for new patients to receive a primary care appointment was about 29 days for the Anchorage facility; that compared to an average of 1.28 days for an established patient.

The average wait for new patients for specialty care was 32.5 days, while it was 2.7 days for established patients.

The average wait for mental health appointments were about 21 days for new patients and 0.64 days for established patients.

The facility was not included on a list of centers flagged for further review.

Alaska’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, called the findings with regard to the Alaska facility encouraging. But she said it was important to note “these figures only represent a single, momentary snapshot that reflects a number of proactive moves made by the Anchorage outpatient clinic to reduce a backlog that reportedly reached 900 late last year.”

“Not only must we maintain these positive response times, we must make sure that our day-in, day-out commitment to those who served is achieved and sustained across our state at both major facilities and the community based outpatient clinics,” she said in a statement.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said he was reading the report closely but was “pleased it shows the VA health care system in Alaska does not have the same significant problems that other states are experiencing.”

“While there is still work to do, today’s numbers reflect great improvement in the performance of the AK VA in recent years and point to Alaska as a model for successful programs that can be implemented in other states,” he said in a statement.

A VA spokesman was traveling Monday and could not immediately comment on the audit.

Late last month, Susan Yeager, director of the Alaska VA Health Care System, said the informal report the Alaska VA got back after the VA nationwide had teams review scheduling processes was that “our people are scheduling the right way.”

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cheapersmokes
1037
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cheapersmokes 06/11/14 - 07:45 am
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Alaska VA's

It is good to see that the Alaskan VA system survived the recent flap about delayed appointments and forgotten veterans. It sure helps to have so many local clinics and having them tied into local hospitals for further care. So many of us are forgetting that their are so very many outstanding people working in the VA system who are doing a great job for the veterans.

jford
3449
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jford 06/11/14 - 08:35 am
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VA interconnected with local clinics

Mark Begich spearheaded the policy that allows Alaska VA to network with local clinics and hospitals reducing wait times for vets in need of care, and President Obama endorsed the change.

That happened three years ago. The President and Senator Begich are miles ahead of their Republican counterparts who recently filibustered and killed increased funding for veterans care.

Nice to see you support the work of Senator Begich and the President.

cheapersmokes
1037
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cheapersmokes 06/11/14 - 06:46 pm
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jford

How in the hell did you ever assume that I was supporting the work of Begich and Obummer in any way! He will be impeached yet this summer and Begich is going to have to actually find another job soon. Obama has long shown that he is NO friend of the military and please stop trying to spin every comment to your liking!

jford
3449
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jford 06/11/14 - 06:59 pm
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As I said.

Mark Begich spearheaded the policy that allows Alaska VA to network with local clinics and hospitals reducing wait times for vets in need of care, and President Obama endorsed the change.

You said you liked the idea that local clinics and hospitals network with the VA here.

You can't say you like something and then say you don't just because it's the initiative of politicians you don't like. Facts are facts whether you acknowledge them or not.

Reality is what it is, no need to spin anything, you just don't like reality.

And watch your language, children read this paper too and you're setting a bad example.

bluffbunny
78
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bluffbunny 06/12/14 - 11:48 pm
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VA hospital

I'd like to know if jford was ever in the military or had some family member in the military? Jford, did you ever use the VA hospital in Anchorage? If not, how can you possibly know about so much about it?
I was CLOSELY INVOLVED with the Anchorage VA hospital for over 2 years, and have many 'stories' I could tell, about what goes on, there. It wasn't good.
Begich was ON the Veterans Commission, so it was his RESPONSIBILITY to be aware of problems at ANY VA hospital. So why did he do nothing, about the problem hospitals?

jford
3449
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jford 06/13/14 - 12:21 am
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Closely involved? or not so closely….

Good luck documenting your claim that Begich did nothing when the record shows otherwise.

You can claim almost anything, proving your claim presents you with a problem.

There's too much documentation which disproves your claim. Newspaper and magazine stories belie the claim.

Even the staid Alaska Business Monthly reports on the success Begich has had in addressing veterans issues.

Here's FACTCheck disproving the claim:

http://www.factcheck.org/2014/06/twisting-begichs-response-to-va-scandal/

And by the way. Just what is this Veterans Commission you speak of?

I am perfectly aware that Senator Begich held a seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, but a Veterans Commission? Who formed this Veterans Commission you speak of?

Senator Begich actually did something to help veterans, he didn't just pay lip service to them like the Republicans do.

Republicans think nothing of sending our military members to ill-conceived wars of choice, but give them actual support beyond a yellow ribbon on a pickup truck? No, Republicans consistently vote to cut funding and curtail support for veterans.

jford
3449
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jford 09/03/14 - 11:15 am
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A follow-up, who voted to increase veterans funding, who didn't.

Republicans of all stripes vote to block health care funding for veterans again.

Mainstream Republicans, and the Teapublicans too.

All the talk of supporting our troops coming from the right is nothing but empty talking points, it sounds good, only there is no reality behind the talk. It's another lie.

Republicans block 21 billion dollars that would have provided much needed health care and benefits to veterans.

We make promises to our servicemen and our servicewomen, Republicans continually break those promises.

They fail in their duty to our troops.

S. 1982 (Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 ) A bill to improve the provision of medical services and benefits to veterans, …blocked by Republicans.

And look who isn't voting. Couldn't be bothered to vote for veterans. Murkowski.

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm...

Republicans spend a lot of time telling everyone they 'support our troops'.

Other than pasting a plastic Chinese made yellow sticker on their car, they don't support our troops at all.

They're quick to send them into harms way, but won't fulfill the promises made to those who do serve.

It's shameful.

If you vote for Republicans, you also should be ashamed.

You should note, our Democratic Senator voted yes to support our troops. His actions match his commitment to support our troops.

Republicans? Not at all.

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