Monday, August 24, 2015

Half of the Critical Positions are Open at some VA Hospitals

About one in three jobs are vacant at nine of the nation’s regional Veterans Affairs health care systems, leaving veterans waiting weeks to get care.
Nationally, one in six positions — nearly 41,000 — for critical intake workers, doctors, nurses and assistants were unfilled as of mid July, in part due to complex hiring procedures and poor recruitment, according to critics of the nation's network of 139 hospitals and clinics that treat veterans.
The vacancy data obtained by USA TODAY through the Freedom of Information Act offers the first look at how serious staffing issues are at some VA hospitals and clinics. It also shows that at many locations, unfilled jobs are driving up appointment wait times. USA TODAY's analysis found that even a 1% increase in job vacancies contributes to more appointments being pushed past a month-long wait.
This Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix is at the center 
of a management scandal at the Department of Veterans 
Affairs involving the doctoring of records to hide chronic 
delays in providing medical and mental health care 
to veterans.(Photo: Christian Petersen, Getty Images)
Some of the highest vacancy rates are for psychologists. In 13 regional health care systems, 40 to 64% of psychologist positions are vacant. Nationally, about 21% of such positions are vacant.
“It is unacceptable,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee. “This is a problem under bright sunlight now, and it needs to be fixed.”
In Fayetteville, N.C., 59 of its 187 physician positions were open in mid July, and the hospital and its outpatient clinics had only half of the psychologists needed to be at full staff. Overall, a third of medical jobs within that system are vacant. A quarter of patients with pending appointments are waiting more than a month past their requested appointment time.
“This is something we’ve been dealing with for more than a year,” said Fayetteville spokesman Jeffrey Melvin, referring to the long wait times. “A lot of that stems from lack of space, lack of providers.”
He shouldn't have to wait months for an appointment
Melvin said Fayetteville had a hard time recruiting medical professionals to move to the area. And the hospital has high turnover because many employees are spouses of military members at nearby Fort Bragg, and leave when their partners are transferred to other bases.
Fayetteville is one of nine facilities with clinical employee vacancy rates over 30%. The others are the West Texas Healthcare System in Big Spring, Texas; Roseburg, Ore.; Long Beach, Calif.; Walla Walla, Wash.; Memphis; Reno; Togus, Maine, and Montgomery, Ala.
Read the rest of the story HERE and find a link to a related story below:

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