It’s a service that should have been up and running years ago when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs first came under fire for outrageous patient neglect: a website that reports wait times at VA clinics across the nation.
Even some of the VA’s harshest critics are giving the agency’s Access to Care website the benefit of the doubt. Obviously if the information contained therein isn’t accurate, timely and regularly updated, the uproar will be immediate.
Such was the public response in 2014 after whistleblowers exposed bogus waiting lists at VA facilities, a VA suicide “hotline” that put callers on hold and other inexcusable staffing problems. Complaints continued even after Congress passed the Veterans Choice Act.
The new website puts the VA’s credibility online. In addition to posting patient wait times, based on a clinic’s monthly average from the prior 30-day period, the site shows how VA facilities compare with other area hospitals, veterans’ satisfaction with their care and how the VA is doing nationally with access. Even for folks who aren’t computer savvy, it’s all fairly easy to navigate.
“It’s refreshing to see the VA draw from the private sector to develop solutions that will modernize the department,” says Mark Lucas, executive director of Concern Veterans for America.
Here’s hoping the website is just the first in a series of VA steps in the right direction.
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