Mountain Home not flagged for further review in VA audit: News conference tomorrow


Center ranks poorly on wait times for new specialty care patients, but in top half for established specialty patients’ wait times

By Jeff Keeling

Neither the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Medical Center nor any of its affiliated clinics are among 81 VA sites “flagged for further review” following an initial audit of access and electronic wait list data. The audit was released today.

Mountain Home Director Charlene Ehret

Mountain Home Director Charlene Ehret

Information released did show that Mountain Home ranked 133rd out of 141 VA’s measured in the average wait time for a new specialty care patient to have an appointment. The center also ranked rather low for new primary care patient wait times, and closer to the middle in several other factors.

Leaders at the James H. Quillen VAMC at Mountain Home will conduct a news conference at Mountain Home at 10 a.m. tomorrow to discuss the audit. Mountain Home was visited May 13, just the second day of the “Phase 1” audit process, according to the comprehensive, 54-page audit document.

Phase 1 covered VA medical centers and large community-based outpatient clinics (those serving at least 10,000 veterans). A second phase covered additional VA facilities, including some but not all of the smaller outpatient clinics such as nine overseen by Mountain Home.

A quick review of the audit findings shows 37 percent of 216 sites visited in Phase 1 (mostly larger VA facilities) were judged as “requiring further review.” The audit document says that at those sites requiring review, “further actions will be taken after the determination of the extent of issues related to scheduling and access management practices.”

In Tennessee those include the Nashville main campus and a Memphis facility.

A “patient access data” spreadsheet released today showed a wide range of specific data covering 141 centers, including Mountain Home. Included were data on average wait times for both new and established patients for primary care, specialty care and mental health care.

Mountain Home was listed as having 68,796 total appointments, which ranked it 20th highest among the 141 centers in number of appointments. The average facility had 42,584 appointments.

Mountain Home ranked 125th (17th slowest) in average wait time for a new primary care patient. It ranked 104th (37th slowest) and 103rd (38th slowest) for wait times for established primary care and new mental health care patients, respectively.

The center’s best wait time rankings were for established mental health care and established specialty care patients. Mountain Home ranked 75th, near the middle, for established mental health patients and in the top half, 54th, for established specialty care patients.

The audit document states that the Veterans Health Administration “will make rapid and definitive changes to ensure integrity in managing Veterans’ access to care so the agency can maintain its focus on providing Veterans timely access.”


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