Salem VA Medical Center reports progress in wait times, access to care

Published: Jul. 12, 2016 at 8:19 PM EDT
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Officials at the Salem VA Medical Center say they still have work to do, but Tuesday they reported substantial progress improving veterans' access to health care.

For example, the medical center reports wait times have been reduced to six days for primary care, eighteen days for specialty care and two days for mental health care.

Becky Stackhouse is the Interim Director of the Salem VA Medical Center.

"Can you tell us that you are making progress in those areas," we asked Stackhouse. "Still more work to do," she said, "but we have great wait times when we look at the national average."

The Salem VA Medical Center was offering an annual report on its progress.

The Roanoke Regional Benefit Office also reported improvement in the time it takes to process veterans' claims.

The office that determines if veterans qualify for benefits said it continues to reduce the number and age of pending claims.

Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs said employees in the Regional Benefit Office have made major strides in the last two years.

Kathleen Sullivan is the Acting Director of the regional office.

"We're addressing all of those issues now," Sullivan told WDBJ7. "We're getting them in line and with the dedicated employees and staff that we have, I'm confident that we will continue to see sustained improvement."

Sullivan said processing veterans' appeals is a continuing challenge, but she said the hiring of additional employees has put the office on target to meet its goals.

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