Reno VA Hospital Working to Reduce Wait Times - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Reno VA Hospital Working to Reduce Wait Times

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The Reno VA hospital says it has found a way to try to minimize the wait time for new patient appointments - after being ranked this week as one of the worst in the nation.

On Monday, USA Today published an article ranking Reno's VA hospital 10th out of 140 cities across the nation for the longest wait time for new patients. That wait time?  An average of 44.3 days.

We took that report directly to officials at the VA Sierra Nevada Health System to get their reaction.

Officials told us they knew about the statistics long before the USA Today article came out. And said they have already taken steps to try to improve those numbers.

"We saw that we were way into the unacceptable range as 44 days to have a new patient be seen by a doctor," says Darin Farr, Public Affairs Officer with VA Sierra Nevada Health System.

The hospital blames that long wait on a high number of new patients during the time of the USA Today research - October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. It says there were 18,000 new veterans seeking treatment in that time. Added to the 30,000+ patients they already serve.

"That's a substantial amount of growth for us," Farr said. "We had to be able to accommodate that. That started to cause lag with the way that we currently had with the system working on primary care."
   
Farr says after learning of the very long wait times - they put a team together and get their doctors, nurses and clerks to have more flexible schedules. They say that means they'll have a few hours open each day to handle walk-in appointments for new patients.

"As of this week, you come into our enrollment center, you sign up, get declared eligible, you could be seen that day," Farr said.

You may remember that Farr told us last week the wait time here was 28 days. We asked him about the huge discrepancy in those numbers and he said he was referring to wait times for existing patients - not new patients.

For comparison, the city with the highest average wait time is Nashville, Tennessee at 65 days while the reported lowest is Clarksburg, West Virginia at 7.7 days.

Written by Adam Varahachaikol
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