VA holds stand down for veterans needing urgent care
BILOXI -- The Biloxi VA was one of several veterans health systems on Saturday that participated in a national access stand down, hoping to get veterans in need of critical care one step closer to their appointments.
Anthony Dawson, director for Gulf Coast Health Care Systems, said Saturday's stand down was the second one in recent months.
"We wanted to build on what we started here in November," he said. "We are building on the momentum from that."
Dawson said VA staff and physicians spent the day finding patients in the computer system that needed either follow-up appointments or "consults" for those needing urgent care. He said urgent care could mean appointments with cardiologists or cancer specialists.
"There's a variety of consults, but we are trying to find the ones that need urgent care," he said. "We have some people that may need a follow-up because they hurt their finger. We know this is important to the person, but we are trying to get to the people that could become severely ill if they don't get their follow-up appointments."
With almost 70,000 veterans using the health care system, Dawson said that right under 1,000 need urgent care consults and about 95 percent of those had been dealt with before Saturday's stand down.
"This is just a concentrated effort to make sure these people get the urgent care they need," Dawson said. "We will continue to do this after today."
About 100 employees -- including physicians -- participated in the stand down. Dawson said his staff was receiving overtime pay for working on a Saturday.
"We did this out of our budget," he said. "Access is our top priority. This means we will have to adjust some other things like maybe we will only have the ground cleaned once a month instead of every week, but it's important to get these veterans the health care they need."