Louisville's VA Hospital shows WDRB how recent improvements are - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville's VA Hospital shows WDRB how recent improvements are changing veteran care

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After a tough year for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisville VA hospital opened its doors to us Friday. After a tough year for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisville VA hospital opened its doors to us Friday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After a tough year for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisville VA hospital opened its doors Friday. The staff showed WDRB what's changed to treat patients better and faster, and most importantly, how they're working to regain people's trust. 

It's been more than a year since President Obama signed the $16 billion VA healthcare overhaul bill and more than a year since the agency was rocked by scandal -- in which secret lists were uncovered hiding long wait times. 

Locally, veterans speak of their frustrations of waiting to get an appointment and the quality of care at the Louisville VA Hospital. But scandals led to change and transparency. 

"Veterans and taxpayers have the right to know what we have going on in our medical centers," VA Medical Center Director Martin Traxler said. 

WDRB was invited to get inside. 

Over the past year, the Louisville VA Hosptial says its been able to schedule more than 10,000 appointments than it did last year. Numbers from September show 90 percent of patients were seen within seven days of scheduling an appointment. 

Since August of last year, the VA Hospital has added 90 members to its staff. Patients tell us they notice improvements.

"I see it improving a lot," veteran Art Gerber said. "They're so punctual now. Before, I used to wait a little bit here. They're right on the ball now."

"I've seen improvements," veteran Brandon Higgs said. "They've got a veterans choice program going on -- if they can't schedule to see you within 30 days, someone will call you up and schedule an appointment on the outside."

But we viewers on Facebook about people's experience there, and some responses said the one major problem remaining in Louisville is parking. That should be addressed when the new VA Hospital is built off Brownsboro Road, but that's still years away.

The director said his most important remaining issue is coordination.

"One of the challenges in a system that offers as many services as we do is moving a veteran from a primary care visit specialty care to any kind of follow up and making sure they're completely aware what's happening," Traxler said.

Dealing with the problems is an opportunity to improve.

"This will be an opportunity for the greatest improvement that the VA has ever seen," Traxler said. "We all believe that's true, and we're experiencing that now. That's our attitude."

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