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VA San Diego Healthcare Director Says New Clinic, Hires Will Decrease Wait Times

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VA San Diego Healthcare Director Says New Clinic, Hires Will Decrease Wait Times
San Diego’s VA Healthcare System is not one of those being audited, but officials admit the wait times for new patients is too long.

Wait times for new VA patients in California

Veterans Affairs medical centers have come under criticism for long wait times for care. These are the VA hospitals in California with the longest average wait times as of May 15 for new patients seeking primary care, specialty care and mental health care, according to audit results released Monday.

NEW PATIENT PRIMARY CARE AVERAGE WAIT TIME:

Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System: 56.2 days

Loma Linda: 44 days

San Diego: 43.8 days

Northern California Health Care System: 43.5 days

Palo Alto: 42 days

Long Beach: 33.7 days

San Francisco: 29.7 days

Fresno: 25.5 days

NEW PATIENT SPECIALTY CARE AVERAGE WAIT TIME:

Fresno: 61.4 days

Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System: 55.1 days

Long Beach: 50.6 days

Loma Linda: 50.4 days

San Francisco: 49.7 days

San Diego: 43.7 days

Palo Alto: 42.1 days

Northern California Health Care System: 40.3 days

NEW PATIENT MENTAL HEALTH AVERAGE WAIT TIME:

Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System: 39.3 days

Long Beach: 38.1 days

San Francisco: 35.9 days

San Diego: 34.5 days

Fresno: 30.7 days

Loma Linda: 27.6 days

Palo Alto: 25.3 days

Northern California Health Care System: 22.3 days

The wait time for new patients to see a primary care provider in San Diego — 44 days — is the third longest of all VA Healthcare systems in California.

Jeffrey Gering, director of San Diego’s system, said one of their problems has been a lack of space. To that end, they’re opening up a new clinic in Sorrento Valley this summer. The site will have four primary care teams. The system is also in the process of hiring eight new nurse practitioners to help speed things along.

Gering admits more than 300 San Diego area veterans have been waiting 90 days to see a doctor.

“We’ve been working on moving those appointments up earlier, so they could be seen sooner, or, if the veteran wants to, we will arrange care in the private sector at our expense,” he said.

San Diego’s VA Healthcare System includes one hospital and six clinics. The system treated 75,000 veterans last year. So far in 2014, VA San Diego's patient load has increased by 5 percent.

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