Protesters Claim Reno VA Understaffed - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Protesters Claim Reno VA Understaffed

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Protesters held signs and chanted outside of the Federal Building on South Virginia Street Tuesday, calling for increased staffing at the VA, saying keeping too many positions open is causing delays for care.

The protesters claimed that there are about 150 open jobs at the Reno VA and nearly 50,000 open jobs nationally.

"There's such a big need," protester Eric Gerken said. "There's many veterans that need a lot of care, and part of the problem in meeting that demand is that there's so many open positions."

Gerken works for the VA hospital in Reno, and says he's seen issues arise from being short-staffed, like veterans waiting for weeks to get appointments.

But local VA officials tell a different story. In response to the protest, they said the average wait time for an appointment at Reno's VA hospital is seven days, or between nine and 11 for specialty care.

And they said there are fewer vacancies than the protesters claim, too-- about 112 openings compared to the 150 they're accused of in Reno. Nationally, officials say the number is more like 34,000 rather than the 50,000 protesters claimed.

VA officials also say the Reno hospital has already filled about 70 of its 112 open positions; the employees just haven't started yet.

As for the rest of the openings, they said sometimes it's just a challenge to find the right people.

"The health care profession is a very, very competitive field," VA Public Affairs Officer Darin Farr said. "You have retirements, you have turnover, you're competing with civilian sector markets that can pay more in some places."

Farr said they are actively working to fill the remaining positions at the Reno VA. To see the list, or to apply, click here.

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