On Saturday, Feb. 27, VA conducted its second “National Access Stand Down.”

From heart to eye surgery, Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center surgeons (pictured above) were busy Saturday caring for Veterans during the Access Stand Down.

As a result of the Stand Down, VA made progress in improving access and the Veteran experience by better meeting urgent needs and significantly reducing the number of Veterans waiting more than 30 days for care.

Increasing Access to Health Care allows Veterans:

  • To maximize the opportunities for “same day” appointments as much as possible.
  • Get timely and convenient care, referrals and information from any VA medical center, in addition to their preferred VA care facility.
  • See their provider within 30 days of their preferred date or date of clinical need.

Of the 81,000 Veterans identified on Jan. 27 as having an appointment in one of our Level 1 (most urgent) clinics and waiting more than 30 days, 93 percent have been assessed through the Access Stand Down. For the remaining 7 percent, we are working to ensure their care needs are addressed.

A nurse helps a Veteran in a CT scan

Marjorie Reed, a South Texas VA radiology tech, places a neck brace for stability on Veteran patient Marvin Arnold prior to his CT scan. Arnold was at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital for an appointment during the first National Access Stand Down, and walked over to the radiology unit, where he was able to complete his CT scan on the same day.

This event provides a foundation for sustained access and improves the Veteran experience by streamlining the access to care processes.  While continuing to see an increase in demand for VA care, for the month of February, we have been able to reduce the number of patients waiting more than 30 days by 20 percent.

As part of the Stand Down effort, VA also identified 3,319 patients waiting more than 7 days on the Electronic Wait List (EWL) for an appointment in a Level 1 (most urgent) clinic. As of Feb. 29, 77 percent have been given an appointment. The remaining 734 entries are continuing to be worked.

Over the same period of time, VA has been able to reduce the current number of entries on the EWL in Level 1 Clinics by 47 percent as a result of the Stand Down.

Our efforts to sustain Veteran access will continue long after the Feb. 27 Access Stand Down.

For our Veterans and the American people, we’re creating a new VA that is more transparent, collaborative, and respectful, less formal and bureaucratic, and more execution- and customer outcome-focused.

See more photos of Veterans receiving care last Saturday.

Dr. David ShulkinAbout the Author: Dr. David J. Shulkin is the Under Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


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Published on Mar. 2, 2016

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  1. Denis la Bine March 16, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I am on means level since strokes heart attacks and heart surgery I died, came back to life without memory, did not know I am in hospital, did not know English, did not know am married or served, all gone. Va never ever processed me for my benefit, so was qualified for means. Stroke of June 25 2012 @ the Loma linda veterans E.R. Parking lot maybe 40 feet away from E.R. Front door entrance, lost vision, hearing voice and MRI, x-rays, cat scanned confirmed having stroke now at that time, a week later discharged due to electrical fire has sad on 4 Th floor.
    Was dumped outside and with my condition, no vision, hearing, voice and now from stroke dysphasia, diabetes had NO rehab on left side of my body from stroke, the they cancelled all my appointments, Perscriptions, everything.
    Now new lifetime director sent to me and to president Obama a letter of apology for as she stated unintentionally cancelled my appointments but stil never getting any rehab, but once a 5 minutes knee massage since he was taking care of 8 other vets in same room.
    Now 2016 this month again all medical care was stopped bye legibility including means that I still qualified for but denied by unknown unverified medical director who refused to talk to my congressman I had on phone durin walking into the office refused to be recorded, but I said i am not recording talk to my congressman and refused to have meeting if I did not hang up. So on phone with congressman I said who are you people and was given names, but still records show I am qualified for means level and still cancelled all appointments, but being exempt to copay in means level sent me bill for Perscriptions I already had and doctor visit I never saw.
    Totally out of hand and irresponsible. All my va St. Louis mailed certified dd214 got 2 copies mailed to me on 11/13/2013. They made copies and gotten medical care that stopped this month, since all I submitted many times just disappeared.

    Va is killing me twice over

    Now tried to post first time says this
    ERROR: Unreadable CAPTCHA token file

  2. john henry leger March 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    why can people on welfare get to go to any hospital –see any doctor that they want to — and veterans have to jump through hoops to obtain care/?

  3. charles R Kentch March 8, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Tried to send a comment and the code could not be read and I lost the whole thing another example of VA Excellence.

  4. James Hultman March 7, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Best idea of all.

  5. James Hultman March 7, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Eliminate mileage constraints, and let vet select local medical facilities. Let VA have access to vet’s medical records and billing through HEALTH NET. That will eliminate virtually all problems the vets and VA are having with timely services and effective care. It’s a shame that Bob McDonald and his cohorts can’t see this. Personally, I’m paying my MEDICARE premiums so I will have the care I and my primary care doctor determine my needs and treatments. I just can’t utilize the VA facilities because of their locations.and operating hours.

  6. walter mclaughlin March 7, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Urologist dropped from Team on Secure Messaging. Why? Drugs dropped from refill list on MhealthyEVet. Why? No complaints about care givers, most are excellent. VA seems to spend a lot of time on homeless and activities. Need to get health care done first. Priorities seem wrong. Spent 2 hours on phone trying to get answers but you get passed to another, passed to another, etc. and I still don’t have an answer.

  7. Not UR Biz March 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    IF the VA REALLY wanted this to be a TRUE success, giving just TWO days notice to Vets that this event is going to occur is ridiculous. VA needs to give VETS more notice PLUS VA needs to make it STANDARD practice the NO vet has to wait a lfie time for an appt just because the VA deems the issue “not that urgent”. I’d LOVE for some of these VA bureaucrats to have to deal with this same “we’re get around to you some day” attitude from THEIR doctors with the same “oh it’s not THAT bad .. take two aspirin and call me in 6 months so I can tell you AGAIN it’s not THAT bad.”
    I’m glad 80,000 vets got seen but that’s a drop in the bucket and it doesn’t address the CAUSE of the delays.

    And FYI, female vets have OTHER issues besides mammograms, pap smears, and birth control. Many actually have INJURIES that are Service Connected (like loss of hearing, injured limbs, eye injuries, etc) and it’s a SHAME that the VA tells female vets, “We need to see the guys first. When we have time, we will TRY to see you for these bu tin the meantime, go have a pap smear !”

  8. Edward Weiner March 4, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Let vet choose any doctor ?

  9. keith A. Nordeng March 2, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    All I have read in this blog is how successful. VA’s standdown was. Statistically they seem to be. Let’s get away from numbers and put a real human touch to things and address veteran health care by listning to the veteran. Read the comments posted on the intial blog that announced the standdown. How many VAMC’s didn’t participate or used to clear up a backlog of colonoscopies because the original appointment conflicted with more dire needs of the VA such as a medical conference or golf game. Talk to the vet for a change.l!

    • Not UR Biz March 7, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      I concur All the VA did with this is point out how INEPT they are at providing health care on a reasonable basis to VET who DESERVE the care. There are 152 VA Medical Centers in the USA. And nearly 1400 “community based outpatient clinics, community living centers, and Vet Centers and Dominiciliaries.’ So means if EVERY VA medical center was involved, they say 527 patients each. The VA also states that they employ over 14,000 docs. So that’s patients per doc. WOW what a work load !

  10. Patrick jahnke March 2, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    U know va will never rush a veteran to cc the proper doctors, last June I’ve had a lot of pain gall bladder stone acting up, seen choice doc told me it need to taken out, va doctor though it was not important!!! Ever time act up I call va clinic, nurse just be the doctor, I was unable cc the doctor, when 6 month chk up came I would had wait 28 day ccc him, I was in pain, choice doctor try his best, I’ve call directly to top of va hospital, then she cut it 14 days still in pain, this is 3 months later . I had pain all weekend call nurse she thought it wasn’t important cc doctor sooner, doctor told her it wasn’t important va hospital 3 hr drive, final doctor put paper work, the clinic can wait 7-10 days to act on it, a phone call is 3 days, it was all fuck up surgery clinic final got picture goto Iowa city 3x in one week 3 hr drive thier then wait smother 2weeks gall stone problem been with me past 5 yrs test show them, va refuses give out any narcotics drug for pain issue I got 8yrs ago 2yrs ago stop them in a heart beat after primary doc retired. So va can give out drugs under new law u have cc doctor, my new doctor sorry can’t is big brother telling va doc no for narcotics drugs, I get 2 pills a day fight needles and pins from 2nd and 3 Rd degree burn 8 yrs va doctor gave me a pill resparked burn area on ankle I was in pain pill up to 2 yrs ago seen choice 7 month put me narcotics drugs 2 pill a day only, I have start all over pain clinic I seen them 3x in Madison. It BS . so va doctors and policy , big brother out thier telling doctors what they can’t and can do for a veteran!!!!!!!!!! See u 6 month deal with pain !!!!!!

  11. Keith. Mickael. Wilson March 2, 2016 at 10:45 am

    I am KEITH M WILSON 8822 I have be waiting 6. MONTH FOR. MY RIGHT ARM . The VA IS DOING THERE. BESTTTT . I go to. VA. IN. ALTOONA ,PA . THE. STAFF HAS SAVE. MY “. LIFE “. SWOWING. THEY. CARE. !!!!!!!! . The doctor in. Town. ????? . KEITH M. WILSON USN/USNR

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