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Salem VA clinic responds to audit results

By Nadine Maeser, nmaeser@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jun 11 2014 07:22:28 PM EDT
Updated On: Jun 11 2014 08:20:49 PM EDT

The audit team found an average wait time for new patients in primary care is about 35 days.

SALEM, Va. -

WDBJ 7 is learning new details about the wait times at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Clinic.

Just this week, audit results from VA hospitals across the country were released and now Salem VA clinic managers are speaking out about the report.

There were no significant concerns in Salem and that's why there will be no further review, according to Salem VA Medical Clinic director Dr. Miguel LaPuz.

LaPuz said there is still a lot of room for improvement.

WDBJ 7 sat down with the director, chief of staff and nurse executive Wednesday in response to the audit results.

LaPuz said four things were released in the report this week including results from the internal audit, review of wait times, efficiency and quality review and a mental health survey from 2012-2013.

He said the average wait time for new patients in primary care is about 35 days.

It's 52 days for new patients in specialty care and 36 days for mental health. The wait time for mental health includes new and existing patients.

La Puz said the software used to schedule patients has almost always been a challenge for the medical clinic.

He also said there's been an attempt in the central office to revamp scheduling procedures long before any allegations came to light regarding veteran affairs and wait times across the country.

LaPuz said some areas at his clinic need more attention than others.

"This has been a goal for the facility for three years,” he said. “To respond to the access and make it better we just want it to continuously improve. When you look at the average you aren't seeing some areas that are longer than 35."

One of those areas is dermatology. LaPuz said it has an average wait time of about 60 days.

The Salem VA would like to bring down the wait time of 35 days for primary care, but said it would be difficult to give an exact number of what they would like it to be.