ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Veterans Affairs officials gave an update Friday after a clinic in New Mexico ranked among the worst in the nation when it comes to the percentage of appointments that were delayed a month or longer.
The news conference comes after the Associated Press identified wait times at more than 940 VA facilities nationwide.
The Farmington clinic ranked sixth on the list, with more than 14 percent of appointments delayed 31-days or longer over a six-month period, ranking that clinic more than five times the national average.
At the press conference, officials said they’ve made a lot of progress. They said they completed 97% of appointments in February 2015 within 30 days of the date the Veteran preferred date.
VA officials also said they’re working on giving Veterans more resources.
New Mexico VA dedicated a phone line Thursday for veterans whose appointments are scheduled at least 30 days out.
They also changed the eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program. Officials said they changed the calculation used to determine the distance between a Veteran’s home and the nearest VA facility from a straight line distance to driving distance. For example, now a Veteran who lives less than 40 miles from the nearest facility, but who needs to drive more than 40 miles to get there, will be eligible for the program. Before, the Veteran would not be eligible for the program unless they were waiting for an appointment longer than 30 days from their preferred date.
VA officials said they’re still working hard to make more progress.
“We realize that we are not at 100 percent,” said Andrew Welch, “We understand that 100 percent if a lofty goal, but it’s one we will continue to strive to meet.”