VA works to make care more accessible

VA works to make care more accessible
Biloxi VA staff work to track patients appointments during stand down event. (Photo Source: WLOX News)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Throughout the nation, the Department of Veteran Affairs wants to make sure patients are able to get the services they need.

"Our number one priority is access to care," said Gulf Coast VA Director Anthony Dawson.

 Beth Sadler, emergency nurse manager at the VA, and her co-workers spent Saturday participating in an National Access Stand Down event.

"We're going into patient's records, looking at the consult, who was the patient sent to, was that appointment complete and did we receive information back," said Sadler.

The goal of the stand down is to make sure veterans with the highest needs are getting in to see physicians, and preventing people from getting lost in the system.

"What we're wanting to do is to make sure our patients have been seen by these providers," Sadler said.

Organizers say the stand down just one of various ways the VA is working to combat a reputation for having wait time and accessibility issues.

"We have some very talented staff that we've brought in, and our numbers have turned indefinitely in a positive direction," said Dawson.

However, improving access also comes with challenges.

"We're a very popular health system and as we improve our access more and more, people want to come to us. So, we're growing at a high rate. We're at about a 5 percent growth rate across the Gulf Coast," said Sue Roberts, Gulf Coast VA's Chief of Staff.

That growth rate has added to the Gulf Coast VA's plate, but they are determined to get patients the care they need.

"Right now we're working down the more urgent appointments - cardiology, nephrology, pulmonology. We will continue with stand down, as far as I understand. We'll be working down to the less and less urgent appointments so that all the appointments will be addressed," said Roberts.

Biloxi VA administrators say their goal is to get patients in to see physicians within 30 days.

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