Slow and steady wait time improvements being made at Biloxi VA

Slow and steady wait time improvements being made at Biloxi VA

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Wait times at the Biloxi VA are moving in the right direction, down.  Anthony Dawson is the director of the health complex.  "At Gulf Coast, our average wait time for a completed visit with primary cares is 15 days, specialty care is 13.9 days, and in mental health, it's 7.5 days."

He also said the turnover rate is also going in the right direction.  "Our turnover rate in 2014 was 12.5%. And that has decreased this year in 2015 to where we have a rate of about 8.1%," Dawson explained.

There's one primary reason for the reduction in wait times.  "We have hired 437 additional staff. This includes 35 physicians, 4 physician assistants, 102 nurses, and 296 other selected critical occupations."

Despite the gains, it's not good enough, at least not yet, according to Dawson.  "Veterans and taxpayers expect to see actually more improvements and access and outcomes as well, so there is indeed more work to be done."

Technology will continue to play a bigger role in the health care delivery system for veterans.  "We look at the clinical video of tele-health, that's like speaking to a physician via a video, and that is up 68%," Dawson said.

As part of Monday's informational gathering, the operation of the Biloxi national cemetery was also discussed.  96%  of the people who have ever had to deal with the cemetery are extremely satisfied. And that has led to a big problem in the future, a lack of space.

Graham Wright is the cemetery director.  "Our depletion rate for caskets at the national cemetery is roughly about 6 years for first caskets. If there is a spouse being buried there, there is always a space reserved for that spouse no matter what," Wright explained.

And that issue will have to be dealt with in Washington.

VA officials on the coast say new construction is also a top priority for them as well, to meet the growing demand for veteran's medical services.

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