A closer look reveals deep geographic disparities.
Many delay-prone facilities are clustered in a handful of Southern states, often in areas with a strong military presence, a rural population and patient growth that has outpaced the VA’s sluggish planning process.
Of the 75 clinics and hospitals with the highest percentage of patients waiting more than 30 days for care, 12 are in Tennessee or Kentucky, 11 are in eastern North Carolina and the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, 11 are in Georgia or southern Alabama, and six are in northern Florida.
Seven more were clustered in the region between Albuquerque, N.M., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
Those 47 clinics and hospitals represent just a fraction of the more than 1,000 VA facilities nationwide, but they were responsible for more than one in five of the appointments that took longer than 60 days to complete.
The analysis reveals stark differences between the haves and have-nots.
In the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Coast states, few VA sites reported having significant delays. A little less than half of all VA hospitals and clinics reported averaging fewer than two appointments per month that involved a wait of more than 60 days.
But at the VA’s outpatient clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., 7,117 appointments completed between Sept. 1 and Feb. 28 involved a wait of more than 60 days.
VA officials cite many efforts to ramp up capacity by building new health centers and hiring more staff.
Vancouver VA division
o One of 12 sites in the regional VA Portland Health Care System.
o 48,671 appointments completed September through February.
o 4.07 percent: Care delayed by 31 days or more (1,979 cases).
National VA system
o About 1,000 facilities.
o 27.5 million appointments completed September-February.
o 2.8 percent: National average of delays of 31 days or more.
o 30 days: VA goal is for patients to be seen within 30 days.