Dallas VA Center Among Nation’s Worst Wait Times For New Patients

Dallas VA Hospital

Dallas VA Hospital

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Four medical centers serving veterans in Texas, including the Dallas location, have some of the nation’s worst wait times for new patients.

A federal report released Monday shows that Texas’ eight Veterans Affairs Department medical centers scheduled at least 92 percent of their patients for appointments within 30 days. However, facilities in Harlingen, El Paso, Dallas and Amarillo rank among the longest waits for new patients.

Both the Dallas and Fort Worth VA facilities are among 81 nationwide centers that the audit says will require further review.  The audit found 93-percent of appointment in Dallas are scheduled within 30 days or less. That’s fewer than the national average of 96-percent.

The average wait time for new patients to get a primary care appointment in Dallas is 60 days. It is 59 days for new specialty care appointments and 50 days for mental health appointments.

The audit found 439 patients on an electronic waiting list, unable to get appointments within 90 days or less.

Last week dozens of employees at VA North Texas were calling veterans at home, asking if they wanted earlier appointments than what had been scheduled. A spokesman said hundreds had been referred to private doctors or hospitals in order to get faster access to care.

The Texas Valley Coastal Bend facility in Harlingen averaged a 145-day wait for new patients seeking specialist care, the nation’s worst backlog. The next longest is El Paso’s medical center at 90 days.

Harlingen also ranked second worst for new patients seeking primary care, at 85 days.

The centers in Amarillo, El Paso and Dallas ranked in the top 10 for new patients seeking mental health care.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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