An Associated Press analysis finds some veterans are waiting longer than the VA’s 30 day goal for a medical appointment. But at the Providence VA, just two percent of appointments fail to meet that goal. That's an improvement from six months ago, when about six percent of wait times failed to meet the timeliness goal.
The Associated Press reviewed data for thousands of appointments made at the Providence VA over the last six months. It found about 2700 appointments for primary care didn’t meet that 30-day goal. That’s about two percent of all appointments, better than the national average. Providence VA spokesman Winfield Danielson says veterans facing a long wait can seek care outside the VA. But many don’t, “…provided it’s not an urgent appointment, [they] are willing to wait simply because they’re comfortable with their VA providers.”
Danielson says the Providence VA is trying to reduce wait times even more. They’re hiring 58 additional clinical and administrative staff and have extended hours when necessary.
New rules allow veterans facing longer wait times, or living further than 40 miles from a VA clinic, to seek medical care at outside clinics. But Danielson says only 14 of the Providence VA’s thousands of patients have so far taken advantage of that option.
Danielson also points out that wait times have likely been affected by the medical center's drive to enroll more veterans in care, and severe winter weather.