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A good report: Audit shows Syracuse VA facility does well with scheduling

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An audit examining the delays in accessing medical care at facilities run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been completed, and it contains good news for a hospital in upstate New York.

The access audit was conducted by the Veterans Health Administration at the behest of former VA Secretary Gen. Eric K. Shinseki. VA representatives visited the department’s health care facilities throughout the country to determine how widespread problems were regarding how long it takes patients to get appointments.

One of the hospitals visited was the Syracuse VA Medical Center. Auditors saw no need to place the local facility on a list of 112 VA sites requiring further review. The audit found that Syracuse personnel scheduled 95 percent of requested appointments within 30 days.

For primary care appointments, new patients waited an average of 53.75 days while established patients waited an average of 2.45 days. For specialty care appointments, new patients waited an average of 52.43 days while established patients waited an average of 8.18 days. For mental health appointments, new patients waited an average of 34.86 days while established patients waited an average of less than a day.

These numbers show that one area for improvement with the Syracuse VA center is setting appointments for new patients at a faster rate. According to an article in the June 10 edition of the Post-Standard, the audit found that the median wait time for new patients nationwide was 41.05 days. It’s in the best interest of the Syracuse site and its clients to find ways to fit new patients into the system more quickly.

But overall, this audit bodes well for the Syracuse facility. There is no evidence to suggest that personnel at the local VA hospital had falsified records as had occurred at other sites. Hospital spokesman Robert McLean said personnel in Syracuse have adhered to the VA’s scheduling process and did not need to create separate and misleading figures, according to the Post-Standard story.

In the wake of the scandal that has rocked the VA, it’s reassuring to know that veterans from the north country are receiving good care at the Syracuse VA Medical Center in a timely manner. While there is always room for improvement in its performance, the local site has weathered this controversy fairly well.

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