Last updated: August 27. 2014 12:26PM - 138 Views
Thomas Crisp Contributing Columnist

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Navy Bible Policy: The Navy has rescinded its directive to have religious materials removed from base lodging facilities.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is reported it has reached out to over 217,000 veterans to get them off wait lists and into clinics, has decreased the number of veterans on the Electronic Waiting List (EWL) 40 percent within a two-month period, and more than 22,000 veterans have received accelerated appointments and have been removed from the EWL.

VA is posting regular data updates showing progress on its efforts to accelerate access to quality health care for Veterans who have been waiting for appointments.

These access data updates will be posted at the middle and end of each month at va.gov/health/access-audit.asp. The facility-level data shows the current status of VA’s:

• New Enrollee Appointment Request (NEAR) List: The total number of newly enrolled veterans that have asked for an appointment during the enrollment process. Out of an abundance of caution, VA reviewed the NEAR data from the past decade to identify any individual who:

1. Has enrolled for care since the inception of enrollment,

2. Indicated they desired an appointment on the enrollment form, and

3. Has not yet had a scheduled appointment in the VHA health care system.

• Electronic Wait List (EWL) Count: The total number of all new patients (those who have not been seen in the specific clinic in the previous 24 months) for whom appointments cannot be scheduled in 90 days or less; and

• Total Appointments Scheduled: Every appointment scheduled at the facility except surgery and medical procedures.

Veterans Affairs Department officials will open their scheduling books to outside reviewers in an effort to get an independent assessment of how to fix medical center wait time problems, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said Aug. 8. The announcement came during McDonald’s visit to the Phoenix VA Health Care System, where revelations last spring concerning improper scheduling, lost appointment lists and lengthy patient wait times ignited a nationwide scandal.

“VA is committed to instilling integrity into our scheduling practices to deliver the timely care that veterans deserve,” McDonald said. “It is important that our scheduling practices be reviewed by a respected, independent source to help restore trust in our system.”

The VA Inspector General is still investigating fraudulent scheduling practices at more than 70 of the department’s medical facilities. Since early June, VA leaders have publicly posted wait time data in an effort to provide more transparency, but critics have expressed little faith in any figures put out by the department in light of the scandal.

The outside audit will be done by the Joint Commission, a not-for-profit that specializes in health care accreditation. Investigators will begin work in the coming weeks, combing through each medical center’s scheduling and access practices.

It’s one of several reviews mandated by the new VA secretary, who has promised to change both operations and the culture at the department. McDonald said he has also begun an internal study into department ethics, promising a realignment of employees’ focus and values, and an overhaul of performance standards to be more focused on the care veterans receive.

Several new Veterans Affairs medical facilities would be opened if a House-Senate compromise bill H.R.3230 (Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act) designed to shorten delays in treating veterans becomes law. The legislation approved by the house and sent to the Senate authorizes $1.3 billion to lease 27 new outpatient clinics and other medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico. Most will not begin operation for at least two years. Proposed new facilities would be established as indicated below:

State — City — Type of Facility

Arizona: Phoenix — Walk-in clinic

California: Chico — Walk-in clinic

California: Chula — Vista Walk-in clinic

California: Redding — Walk-in clinic

California: San Diego — Walk-in clinic

Connecticut: West Haven — Homeless drop-in center

Florida: New Port Richey — Outpatient clinic

Georgia: Cobb County — Walk-in clinic

Hawaii: Leeward Oahu — Outpatient health access center

Illinois: Hines — Research

Kansas: Johnson County — Walk-in clinic

Louisiana: Lafayette — Walk-in clinic

Louisiana: Lake Charles — Walk-in clinic

Massachusetts: Worcester — Walk-in clinic

Missouri: Cape Girardeau — Walk-in clinic

New Jersey: Brick — Walk-in clinic

New Mexico: Albuquerque — Clinical research and pharmacological center

Nebraska: Lincoln — Walk-in clinic

Oklahoma: Tulsa — Walk-in clinic

Puerto Rico: Ponce — Outpatient clinic

South Carolina: Charleston — Primary care and dental annex

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach — Walk-in clinic consolidation

Tennessee: Chattanooga — Multispecialty clinic

Texas: San Antonio — Lease consolidation

Texas: Tyler — Walk-in clinic

Texas: Houston — Research

Texas: Lubbock — Walk-in clinic

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