SALISBURY, N.C. -- The findings of a two-year investigation against the Salisbury VA hospital were released Thursday.
The director of the hospital says releasing the information was important for transparency. The hospital was subject to two investigations from federal authorities after receiving six anonymous complaints about long waits for appointments. Only one of those six cases have been substantiated.
"We were aware of that backlog and we were working very aggressively to try to address that backlog," said Health Director Kay Green.
Salisbury has the fifteenth-busiest VA hospital in the nation. It has expanded by opening two new health centers. However, Green admits patients have faced waits as long as six months for appointments. This is particularly an issue for nuclear medicine, which includes cat scans and x-rays.
"We put an aggressive plan in place at that time to retrain all of our schedulers to make sure that they knew what the proper way to schedule was," said Green.
Green says improvements have been made and new patients wait about 10 days for a primary care appointment, five days for existing patients. However, radiology is still backed up. More than 260 patients have not been scheduled for an appointment and they have been waiting for more than 30 days.
"We will never fudge a number here, just to make ourselves look better than we are," she said. "What is most important to me is that we provide veterans with the very best care that we possibly can, and that means we need to know what the real numbers are so we know where we need to target our improvement efforts."
She added that supervisors that were improperly scheduling patients are either no longer in supervisory roles or with the VA hospital system.
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