A growing number of veterans have sought care at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center over the past few years, pointing to part of the reason that new patients wait an average of 44 days to see a primary care provider at the facility, leaders said Tuesday.
Leaders from the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center called a news conference Tuesday to address concerns related to an audit that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released Monday that focused on wait times in VA facilities across the U.S.
The audit showed that new patients seeking primary care waited an average of 44 days for appointments, with new patients seeking specialty care and mental health care at the OKC VA facing similar delays.
Dr. Mark Huycke, the OKC VA chief of staff, told a group of reporters that the VA has seen clear-cut growth in its patient population, pointing to part of the reason for the delays in care found in the audit.
“We work to keep up with that demand for services, but it’s a constant struggle to add providers, find additional space, (and) hire support staff in order to maintain access to those services, so we’re constantly working on this, but as we grow, we have to keep adding and adding,” Huycke said.
More than an estimated 58,000 patients will seek care during the 2014 fiscal year at either the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center or other veterans health centers within the Oklahoma City VA network, which includes facilities across western Oklahoma and two counties in north Texas, according to data released Tuesday.
That’s an increase from the 2011 fiscal year when about 54,000 patients sought care through that network.
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