Danville VA facility on list for 'further review'

DANVILLE — The Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System has learned why its main facility in Danville and Peoria outpatient clinic landed on a list of 112 VA medical sites requiring further review.

Among hundreds of VA facilities given an access audit, in which thousands of schedulers were interviewed to investigate whether they are properly scheduling patients and using an electronic waiting list, the Danville facility and its Peoria clinic were both audited in May.

VA Illiana public affairs officer Douglas Shouse said he was at both audits and he and others in the Illiana system were initially surprised about those sites winding up on the "further review" list.

But they learned a few days ago that some 30 to 40 percent of the schedulers weren't familiar with an electronic wait list, which the VA uses to monitor patients who haven't had an appointment in 90 days, Shouse said.

"We didn't have patients waiting more than 90 days to have an appointment," he added.

The Illiana Health Care System will cooperate fully with the upcoming second review, which hasn't yet been scheduled, and take whatever steps are necessary to fix problems, he said.

"Our attitude is let us know what we're not doing correctly and we'll improve it," Shouse said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released its latest bimonthly update Thursday, showing how VA facilities are doing with efforts to improve access to care.

That update included appointments for June 15, with the Illiana system showing a total 20,025 upcoming appointments scheduled, and 18,892 of them — or 94.3 percent — reflecting patients being seen within 30 days.

"What we've been seeing in all the VAs, about 10 percent nationally of veterans are not being seen in 30 days, so we're above the norm, but we still can improve," Shouse said.

In its last fiscal year, that system treated 34,000 veterans in central Illinois and west central Indiana and provided more than 360,000 outpatient visits at the Danville hospital and five outpatient clinics, Shouse said.

"In many communities across the country, veterans wait too long for the high quality care they've earned and deserve," acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson said in a statement. "As of today, we've reached out to nearly 140,000 veterans to get them off wait lists and into clinics, and there is more work to be done."

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