Dallas VA leaders say facilities are improving

Like VA hospitals across the country, the VA facility in Dallas has taken hits from vets who complain about the quality of health care and the wait times for that care.

Leaders held a roundtable discussion in Dallas on Tuesday to answer those charges and talk about how the facility is improving.

“I feel very positive about what’s going on with the North Texas health care system,” said Ken Brown, Interim Director of the V.A. North Texas Health Care System.

The message from the facility that serves 33 counties is improving access to facilities and doctors.

“We've had a steady growth over the past five years and we anticipate continued growth in the coming years,” said Eric Jacobson, Acting Associate Director of the V.A. North Texas Health Care System.

Expansion is underway, with a new emergency department enlarging from 13 bays to 27 private rooms. It’s a physical transformation leaders hope will equal a health care transformation.      

One of the biggest dialysis units in the nation is at the Dallas VA, where both in and out patient care is given.  Roughly 1,300 dialysis treatments each month take place.

But veterans are still skeptical. One local vet, Ben Rangel, tweeted at FOX4’s Shaun Rabb that it took four weeks to receive a call for an appointment and three weeks to get into it.

“We feel very positive that we are able to get our veterans appointments when they need them,” Interim Director Brown said. “The average wait time in a primary care appointment is about seven days. For a mental health appointment, it’s about four days. Specialty care about five days, and then for specialty care appointments it’s about five days.

Performance measures like health care effectiveness, length of stay, re-admissions, and employee satisfaction are all improving, said VA Chief of Staff Dr. Jeff Hastings. The leaders of the VA North Texas Health Care System hope vets who've given up on them will give them a second chance.

“We've spent a lot of time on these measures and yet it’s really about the quality of care we provide the veteran,” Dr. Hastings said. “Always have improvements, nobody's perfect and yet we're very proud of what our staff and our hospital is doing.”