Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Acting Secretary Gibson Outlines Progress in Phoenix
July 28, 2014, 08:00:00 AM
VA Reached Out to Over 5,000 Veterans to Coordinate Care
As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Accelerating Access to Care Initiative, the Phoenix VA Health Care System (VAHCS) has reached out to more than 5,000 Veterans to coordinate the acceleration of their care.
“Between May 15 and July 1, more than 2,300 appointments have been scheduled in Phoenix,” said Acting Secretary Sloan D. Gibson. “We have made some solid progress but there is still much more work to be done.”
Since May 15, over 6,500 Veterans have received more than 8,000 referrals to community providers when it was determined the care was unavailable due to a lack of capacity and/or longer-than-desirable wait times. Additionally, the number of Veterans who are on the Electronic Wait List (EWL) is 1,000, down from 1,700 six weeks ago. Veterans who could not be reached by telephone were sent certified letters in an attempt to schedule them for an appointment.
“The Phoenix VAHCS recently partnered with the City of Phoenix, the local Congressional delegation and other community stakeholders who support Veterans for the Veterans First: Health Care, Benefits and Resource Clinic,” said Interim Under Secretary for Health Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy. “The goal was to reach as many Veterans as we could with services and information. With this strong collaborative effort, we were able to reach approximately 350 Veterans throughout each day.”
Phoenix VAHCS is also addressing the underlying issues that have impeded Veterans’ access to care, mainly space and staffing. Additional temporary clinic space was made available through Mobile Medical Units brought in from Cheyenne, Wyoming; Big Spring, Texas; and Jackson, Mississippi. To provide a more permanent solution to the space challenge, a major renovation project for the VA’s Community Living Center was delayed to facilitate additional treatment rooms and efforts are also underway to identify additional clinical space in the greater Phoenix area through the contracting process.
In response to the staffing issues, 32 additional VA employees are on station to assist in the effort to accelerate care for Veterans. Staffing will remain in place as VA continues to expedite care to Phoenix-area Veterans. To address the long term needs, experts from VA are assisting the Phoenix VAHCS in the recruitment and staffing process to expedite hiring of more than 500 people in the upcoming months. Fifty-seven additional VA employees also will be detailed to assist on site or virtually over the next 30-120 days.
Acting Secretary Gibson visited the VA health care system in Phoenix on June 5 as the first of his 13 medical center visits in the past 7 weeks.
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