Changes at BC VA Medical Center will cut wait times

Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center held a roundtable discussion at its facility Tuesday morning to share changes being made to provide better access for veterans.

It was part of a nationwide press conference event by the Department of Veterans Affairs following the scandal in 2014 that led to major restructuring of the national agency.

The Battle Creek VAMC Director Dr. Mary Beth Skupien said the facility has made a lot of changes to give veterans better access to care and cut their wait times.

Skupien said they are hiring more staff, doctors, clerks and providing additional training for schedulers to get veterans in quicker.

They have also expanded their telehealth program to give more access to veterans living in rural areas of West Michigan.

Skupien said the Battle Creek VAMC was not one of the ones that had major issues with access to care like other facilities around the country.

Leaders with the Battle Creek VAMC shared their strategic plan, including goals to continue to decrease wait times for patients. They hope almost all clinics will have available appointments within a 20 day time period by 2017. The current goal for 2015 is 30 days.

Skupien said for established patients the wait times are already much less, four days for a primary care visit and 10 days for specialty care.

“We are actually doing a lot of great things,” Skupien said. “We have future plans to add some new services, we’re looking at acupuncture, orthopedic, lots on the horizon as a result of this for us, We’re doing well, we’re doing great. We’re using every opportunity to increase access and services for our veterans.”

The Battle Creek VAMC has been recognized as one of the top 10 facilities in the country in helping link veterans with the Choice Program.

The Choice Program allows veterans to get healthcare from non-VA doctors.

It was rolled out as part of the major restructuring of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014.

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