FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – No lines, no waiting, and plenty of parking.
That’s almost the opposite of what U.S. veterans often run into at VA health facilities in North Texas.
But in November, the VA opened up a new, 24,000-square-foot clinic in Grand Prairie, now it just needs veterans to take advantage of it.
It’s equipped to handle 6,000 new patients. But right now, it’s only about 30 percent full.
In fact it’s empty enough veterans could likely get in to see a doctor right away. Filling the Grand Prairie VA Clinic is important to a VA system that is 1 million square feet short on space right now.
New federal rules that could go into effect this summer, requiring facilities be no more than a 30 minute drive for veterans, and no more than a 20 day wait.
“The key is, if we can’t meet those access standards, then we have to send patients out to the community,” explained Director of VA North Texas, Dr. Stephen Holt. “And again, that is a more costly option, and we don’t have the continuity of care that we’d like to have with that.”
In addition to trying to encourage veterans to transfer to new locations, the VA is also looking to add more facilities. One of its targets is a significant hospital property in North Texas, that could potentially re-open as a VA hospital in 2019.