RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- According to a recent report by USA TODAY, Reno ranked 10th out of 140 cities in the nation for highest average amount of day’s new patients had to wait to get an appointment at our area's VA hospital, but local VA officials say that may no longer be the case.
The report states the average wait time for new patients at Reno’s VA hospital is about 44 days. That number is based off data collected between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. However, VA officials say they were aware of that number and already made some changes.
"Our job is not to provide excuses, our job is to tackle the problem and show what we're doing to improve on that,” said Darin Farr with the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System. “And I think we've done that."
Farr says it was unacceptable that new patients were waiting more than a month to see a doctor. He says the hospital looks at data quarterly and modified their system about a month and a half ago.
"So we did a rapid process improvement workshop,” said Farr. “We actually looked at our scheduling’s for new enrollees, new patients, and we looked at how can we address that quickly."
So now, Farr says new patients no longer have to wait 44 days to see a doctor. "So as it stands right now, current day we have a zero wait time for new patients,” said Farr. “How that works is a patient walks in and enrolls today and they're offered the chance to be seen today, if they don't wish to be seen today, we can make accommodations for them for their future desired date if they chose to do so."
Farr says how they're able to offer that service is simple. "We basically started leaving flextime scheduled in our individual doctors that work in primary care for their day,” said Farr. “It does a lot of things for us, it allows us to accommodate the new patients that come in and enroll that day, it also helps us to accommodate the walk-in patients that show up that don't have an appointment."
Patrick Barney is a new patient as of today. He says he was also seen by a doctor, which he wasn't expecting. "I’ve been to the VA previously back in the late 80's, and it just took forever to be seen, administration didn't work,” said Barney. “Today I have to say, it’s my own words, it was flawless."
Now it is important to note, this number of a zero day wait is just for new patients, not for returning patients that are trying to schedule appointments. This study that was published only focused on new patients, not existing patients,