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VAPAHCS Response to Release of Access Information

From: domainremoved <VA>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:50:34 -0700


To all VAPAHCS employees, Veterans and Stakeholders:


Yesterday, VA released the Congressional Notification attached below. A similar notice was shared with Veteran Service Organizations and other external stakeholders.


I would like to provide you with information regarding the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS).


The New Enrollee Appointment Request (NEAR) list represents patients from within and outside our 10-county catchment area who have indicated they would like an appointment at VAPAHCS. We have reached out to all the patients on our NEAR list and have made an appointment for any Veteran who indicated they would like to be seen at one of our sites of care.


The electronic wait list (EWL) represents the list of patients waiting greater than 90 days for an appointment. At the present time, over 300 of the patients on the list represent patients undergoing an evaluation in our pulmonary clinic for sleep disorder. These patients have already been seen in our pulmonary clinic. However, since there are multiple steps involved in the evaluation, these patients are kept on the EWL until their evaluation has been completed. The remainder of the patients on the EWL is primarily in our Dental clinic. Through a combination of expanded care within VA and use of our community providers, we are working on decreasing the number of patients on this list. Our goal is to schedule all the patients on the Dental EWL within 30 days. While this will be particularly challenging with our homeless Veterans, we will strive to achieve this goal.


During the VHA-wide scheduling audits, six of our sites of care were audited. During the audit at our Livermore Division, a concern was raised that staff had been asked to schedule patients in a way that is not consistent with VAPAHCS or VHA guidelines. In the report released on June 9, Livermore was identified as a site flagged for further review. Prior to the release of this audit summary and as soon as the concern was raised, I personally met with the scheduling staff at Livermore. My staff and I reviewed the training guidance given to our schedulers, and spoke with scheduling supervisors to ensure that there is a common understanding of VHA scheduling practices. In order to ensure that there is no confusion about our scheduling practices, we are developing new scheduling training that will be undertaken by all schedulers at all sites within VAPAHCS.


Using our Service Improvement Model, we are reinforcing the message we are all here to “Serve those who Served”. We seek to continuously improve with the direct input of our Veterans and their families. Our journey of improvement is never ending; our Veterans deserve nothing less than our best efforts, all working together for them, every day.




Lisa Freeman

Director, VA Palo Alto HCS




Congressional Notification


Good morning,


As you know, in mid-April the Secretary of Veterans Affairs directed the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to complete a nation-wide Access Audit to ensure a full understanding of VA’s policy among scheduling staff, identify any inappropriate scheduling practices used by employees regarding Veteran preferences for appointment dates, and review waiting list management. VA provided an interim Audit report to Congress and the public on May 30.


In addition to the Access Audit process, VA also gathered additional data from each facility. This data includes: the number of appointments scheduled at each facility; the number of requested appointments that are on each facility’s Electronic Wait List; the number of newly enrolled patients who have not yet been scheduled by facility; and Average Wait Times for Mental Health, Primary Care, and Specialty Care at each facility, for both new and established patients.


VA is already taking corrective action to address issues identified in the audit. Please see the attached press release which summarizes these actions.


At the below first two links you will find fact sheets explaining the data that is being posted.


You can find VHA’s full audit report, as well as facility level data at the following link:



VA has also posted quality and efficiency information known as SAIL here: http://www.hospitalcompare.va.gov/index.asp

Additionally, VA has posted Mental Health Survey results from VA providers from the last two years here:



Thank you for your interest. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Robert Merchant at Robert.Merchant2_at_(domainremoved)



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Received on Tue Jun 10 2014 - 11:49:31 PDT

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