Vermont VA hospital fares well in wait time review


A review of the White River Junction VA hospital in the wake of a national scandal involving long waits for veterans to receive care found Vermont's wait times to be better than the national average.

The White River Junction Veterans Administration Medical Center does not require further review, according to a national VA report on wait times released Monday. The Vermont facility sees 98 percent of its patients within 30 days, the report stated, compared to a national average of 96 percent.

The review was prompted by the deaths of several veterans while awaiting medical services in the Phoenix area, and a coverup of wait times at that facility.

In a conference call with VA Medical Center Director Deborah Amdur, Chief of Mental Health Lanier Summerall and Chief of Primary Care Hugh Huizenga, the White River Junction VA leadership emphasized its commitment to ensure transparency and quality care.

"Our mission is always to provide care in a timely manner," Amdur said. "There are no surprises for us. We use this as an opportunity to improve both care and access."

The federal VA deployed a team to conduct a site visit on May 13, and spent a week in White River, Amdur said.

As a result of the findings, the hospital has identified some departments and clinics where there needs to be increased funding and staff - increased staff in the sleep studies center, dermatology and a new centralized scheduling system.

"In Vermont, 98 percent of veterans get seen within 30 days of making an appointment," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a released statement. "That's a good record - better than the VA national average - but not good enough."


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