BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s VA Medical Center is prescribing itself some outside help.
Alex DeMetrick reports it’s a move to shorten controversial wait times to see a doctor or nurse.
For military veterans, Baltimore’s VA Medical Center ranks in the top ten for long waits to see a health care provider.
“The administrative system is an absolute jumble,” said a VA patient at the hospital.
“Long waits. Long waits in the emergency room. Long waits for clinics,” said Brian Oliver, a VA patient.
But now, new examination rooms are opening up, not at the VA, but at the four Evergreen Health Care facilities located in Maryland.
“We’re going to provide primary care to veterans who are stuck in the backlog of patients at the veterans administration,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson of Evergreen Health Care.
“This is for new primary care patients,” said Dr. Adam Robinson, VA hospital chief of staff.
Dr. Robinson is the VA hospital’s chief of staff and awarded its first contract ever to outside care.
“The new primary care patients that Evergreen will be handling and will be helping us with will absolutely increase access and decrease wait times and increase the choice that our patients have,” Robinson said.
The new contract is geared to do more than just speed up wait times. It will also give patients a more consistent level of care.
“And the doctors. So Many doctors forget about you,” said a VA patient.
A common complaint of veterans is a revolving door of providers from visit to visit. Now, first time patients who elect to go private at Evergreen will have familiar faces.
“Same doctor or nurse practitioner seeing the same patient at the same center. Same health coach and licensed clinical social worker. So there will be tremendous continuity of care,” Beilenson said.
With wait times for appointments in days, instead of weeks or even months.
The VA will pay Evergreen Health up to $485,000 a year to see patients. Evergreen expects at least 1,000 veterans to sign-up for care.
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