On Saturday, Feb. 27, VA conducted its second “National Access Stand Down.”
From heart to eye surgery, Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center surgeons (pictured above) were busy Saturday caring for Veterans during the Access Stand Down.
As a result of the Stand Down, VA made progress in improving access and the Veteran experience by better meeting urgent needs and significantly reducing the number of Veterans waiting more than 30 days for care.
Increasing Access to Health Care allows Veterans:
- To maximize the opportunities for “same day” appointments as much as possible.
- Get timely and convenient care, referrals and information from any VA medical center, in addition to their preferred VA care facility.
- See their provider within 30 days of their preferred date or date of clinical need.
Of the 81,000 Veterans identified on Jan. 27 as having an appointment in one of our Level 1 (most urgent) clinics and waiting more than 30 days, 93 percent have been assessed through the Access Stand Down. For the remaining 7 percent, we are working to ensure their care needs are addressed.
Marjorie Reed, a South Texas VA radiology tech, places a neck brace for stability on Veteran patient Marvin Arnold prior to his CT scan. Arnold was at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital for an appointment during the first National Access Stand Down, and walked over to the radiology unit, where he was able to complete his CT scan on the same day.
This event provides a foundation for sustained access and improves the Veteran experience by streamlining the access to care processes. While continuing to see an increase in demand for VA care, for the month of February, we have been able to reduce the number of patients waiting more than 30 days by 20 percent.
As part of the Stand Down effort, VA also identified 3,319 patients waiting more than 7 days on the Electronic Wait List (EWL) for an appointment in a Level 1 (most urgent) clinic. As of Feb. 29, 77 percent have been given an appointment. The remaining 734 entries are continuing to be worked.
Over the same period of time, VA has been able to reduce the current number of entries on the EWL in Level 1 Clinics by 47 percent as a result of the Stand Down.
Our efforts to sustain Veteran access will continue long after the Feb. 27 Access Stand Down.
For our Veterans and the American people, we’re creating a new VA that is more transparent, collaborative, and respectful, less formal and bureaucratic, and more execution- and customer outcome-focused.
See more photos of Veterans receiving care last Saturday.
About the Author: Dr. David J. Shulkin is the Under Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs