- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wait times at Madison’s Veterans Hospital have increased more than twofold despite additional staff, extended hours and more care options, according to officials.

The longer waits for care can be attributed to increased demand, said Chief of staff Alan Bridges. The hospital has handled more than 4,200 appointments so far this year - nearly a 2 percent increase over the same period last year.

“We have seen a larger number of new patients,” Bridges said. “I firmly believe this is related to veterans choosing the VA as their accountable care organization, requiring them to sign up for health care.”

In June 2014, a national audit determined that the average wait for a new patient to see a primary care doctor at the Veterans Hospital in Madison was 51 days, although the VA’s target wait time was 14 days.

But recent VA system audits don’t include the same statistic regarding new patients, and the Madison hospital doesn’t track it, Bridges said.

VA officials in Madison said the average wait for all primary care visits is about 3½ days, up from approximately 1½ days a year ago, the Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1KNFfRO ) reported. The wait is a little longer for specialty care - nearly four days.

The Madison hospital wait times are better than the national average. At the VA hospitals in Tomah and Milwaukee, primary care waits are shorter, but the wait for specialty care is longer.

In Madison, nearly 99 percent of patients get appointments within 30 days, more than 93 percent within 14 days and almost 89 percent within seven days.

In an effort to improve access, the Madison VA has added 57 staff members, begun offering evening and weekend hours at some clinics and boosted the use of telemedicine, said spokesman Tim Donovan.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsj


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