Boise VA sees most patients within a month

But the average wait time for those who need a specialist is 52 days.

STATESMAN STAFF AND WIRE SERVICESJune 10, 2014 

The audit from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shows that most Idahoans receiving care at the Boise VA Medical Center wait 30 days or fewer for their first appointment.

In Boise, about 90 percent of the more than 15,000 veterans awaiting appointments at the Boise center are scheduled within a month. That's less than the national average of 96 percent.

Established Boise patients are seen more quickly, averaging a seven-day wait for specialists and about a day for primary care and mental health doctors.

"We know we have some specialty-care access issues," said Grant Ragsdale, associate medical center director.

The wait times for specialists - and overall wait times - are skewed by the lack of an ophthalmologist, a specialist in eye care, he said. The hospital's longtime ophthalmologist left about two years ago, and the hospital hasn't found a replacement.

For patients who have needed eye care, the Boise VA Medical Center pays for travel to another VA hospital in Portland or Seattle or sends patients to local private-sector physicians and pays the medical bill for those visits, Ragsdale said.

But the hospital has no trouble getting new patients in to see primary-care doctors, with a 23-day wait time on average, he said. Patients who are already plugged into the Boise VA Medical Center can get appointments with primary-care doctors in less than a day, on average, according to the audit.

"We have adequate staffing, and I think our numbers speak to that," Ragsdale said. "We've got very good primary-care access."

The Boise facility has 218 health care providers on staff, including doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Some are full-time and part-time employees, while other providers work in private practice and are consultants at the hospital.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448

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