Warner, Kaine Send Letter To VA Requesting Further Information On Regional Facilities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to Fernando O. Rivera, Network Director of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Capitol Health Care Network, and Daniel F. Hoffman, Network Director of the VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network, expressing concern over the results of the VA Access Audit report released this week. The audit identified problems within the VA’s scheduling system and lengthy wait times for veterans at numerous VA Medical Centers (VAMCs), including facilities in Hampton and Richmond. To better understand the current situation facing Virginia veterans, Warner and Kaine requested further information on all VAMCs in Virginia as well as those in bordering states that often serve veterans from the Commonwealth.
“We understand that data collected in the Access Audit may not reflect the current backlog at VAMC facilities, and we ask you provide the most current wait list information,” Warner and Kaine wrote. “Additionally, as you continue to implement measures to address capacity, we would also request an update on the specific processes that each facility is taking to ensure that the backlog is being addressed.”
Warner and Kaine requested that the VA provide information on the current backlog at each facility, staff training needs, outreach to Virginia veterans currently awaiting care, and the role of private providers in veterans care. Additionally, the Senators offered to assist the regional VA networks to ensure that veterans receive the care that they have earned.
For assistance with casework involving the VA or other veterans issues, please visit Senator Kaine’s website or call his Richmond office at 804-771-2221. Constituents also may contact Senator Warner through his website or by calling 804-775-2314.
Full text of the letter is below:
June 13, 2014
Fernando O. Rivera, MBA, FACHE
VA Capitol Health Care Network (VISN 5)
849 International Dr, Suite 275
Linthicum Heights, MD 21090
Daniel F. Hoffman, FACHE
VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network (VISN 6)
300 W. Morgan St, Suite 700
Durham, NC 27701
Dear Mr. Rivera and Mr. Hoffman:
We are deeply concerned about the results of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Access Audit report, which was released on June 9, 2014.
This report shed light on national problems within the VA’s scheduling system and identified lengthy wait times for veterans. The Audit specifically collected information on appointment scheduling and average wait times for mental health, primary care and specialty care at each facility examined, for both new and established patients. The report also announced corrective actions being taken by the VA to address these issues, including the ongoing agency-wide “Accelerating Access to Care Initiative.”
While the audit visited 731 facilities nationally, we write specifically about the facilities located in Virginia, and those in Washington, D.C. and Martinsburg, WV that service veterans from Virginia. While VAMC Richmond, Virginia Beach Community Based Outpatient Clinic, and VAMC Martinsburg were the only locations in Virginia and surrounding areas identified for further review, we would request more information on all Virginia-related VAMCs. We understand that data collected in the Access Audit may not reflect the current backlog at VAMC facilities, and we ask you provide the most current wait list information. Additionally, as you continue to implement measures to address capacity, we would also request an update on the specific processes that each facility is taking to ensure that the backlog is being addressed.
Each facility faces individual challenges in meeting the needs of Virginia’s veterans. As Congress takes action to improve scheduling and increase capacity, it will be important to put this data in context. We ask that you provide the following information:
- What is your current backlog?
- How are Virginia facilities currently utilizing private providers to assist in veterans care?
- What are the specialty areas where VISN 6 has identified a need for additional providers?
- What additional staff training may be necessary to ensure that scheduling practices are appropriately followed?
- What is the time frame by which you expect to have made contact with all Virginia veterans waiting for health care services at the time of the audit’s release?
- Approximately how many providers per specialty area do you anticipate needing?
- Where will you find capacity to cover the more than 800 New Enrollee Appointment Requests in Richmond, Washington D.C. and West Virginia, and how long it will take to get them scheduled?
- How did you establish the metrics used in the Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning report?
- What steps are being taken at each center to reach the performance metrics set out in the report?
We know you and your staff work every day to ensure that veterans receive the best care possible, and we hope to work with you to provide veterans with care they have earned. Please let us know if we or anyone in our offices can be of assistance, and thank you for your attention to this matter.
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator
United States Senator