VA reports increase in number of August appointments scheduled at VA Central Arkansas HCS health facility in Hot Springs


The VA Central Arkansas Health Care System, subsidiary 598GC in Hot Springs, Arkansas scheduled 7,524 pending appointments in August compared to 5,271 during the same period last year, according to data collected from the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs.

Of the total number of appointments this August, 7,297 had a wait time of 30 days or less (97%) and 227 appointments (3%) were scheduled more than 30 days out.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in January 2019, reported that wait times for new appointments at VA health care facilities were similar or better to wait times at private-sector providers between 2014 and 2017.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), however, released a report in July 2019 that cautioned that the VA's data-tracking system only captures part of the appointment process and fails to account for the time that it takes the VA to enroll veterans in its health benefits program.

At a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee after the report was released, Debra Draper, health care director at the GAO, said new patients may actually wait up to 70 days for an appointment when they first enroll for benefits.

The VA explains on its website that when veterans apply for benefits, they are assigned to 1 of 8 priority groups, with those who need immediate care due to service-related disabilities placed in higher priority groups. Veterans who do not have service-connected disabilities and who earn a higher income are placed in the lower priority groups.

VA Central Arkansas Health Care System - 598GC Appointments Scheduled in August 2019 vs. August 2018

Facility Code
Location
Total Appointments Scheduled in August 2019
Total Appointments Scheduled in August 2018
Percent change in number of appointments
598
Little Rock
43,135
41,622
3.6%
598A0
North Little Rock
46,861
44,162
6.1%
598GA
Mountain Home
4,659
4,070
14.5%
598GB
El Dorado
2,581
2,594
-0.5%
598GC
Hot Springs
7,524
5,271
42.7%
598GD
Mena
1,703
1,367
24.6%
598GE
Pine Bluff
3,304
3,556
-7.1%
598GF
Searcy
3,544
4,004
-11.5%
598GG
Conway
7,025
6,365
10.4%
598GH
Russellville
2,553
2,492
2.4%
Source: U.S. Veteran's Administration

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