Emergency room wait times at Charleston VA average more than 5 hours

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A massive analysis of data from Veterans Affairs hospitals nationwide compiled USA TODAY and released Thursday revealed that veterans can expect an average wait time of more than five hours in the Charleston VA emergency room from arrival to admittance, among other statistics.

Charleston VA officials say the wait times are not that big of a variance with average ER wait times at Charleston’s VA at about five hours and 13 minutes to the national average which is four hours and 17 minutes.

According to officials, wait times are expected “to go down significantly” in the future as the VA expanded their emergency department this past January which more than doubled patient rooms.

First District congressional Rep. Joe Cunningham released the following statement on USA Today’s report:

“The USA Today report raises serious concerns about the state of VA facilities across the country. Ensuring Lowcountry veterans have access to timely and quality care is my highest priority and why my appointment to the House Veterans Affairs Committee is so crucial. Last week I toured the emergency department expansion of Ralph Johnson VA Medical Center, which doubled the size of the ER and the hospital believes will further cut down on wait times. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to improve the VA system so that they have the resources necessary to deliver the high quality care veterans deserve.”

According to USA TODAY, the nationwide analysis stemmed from spread sheets the VA has posted online with comparisons between its medical centers and those that aren’t affiliated. The data was as of June 2018 which was the most recent available.

The rate of bedsores was .082 per 1,000 patients which is more than twice the national average when compared with non-VA hospitals across the U.S. according to the analysis. The bedsore rate was No. 38 out of the 146 VA medical centers.

The analysis also stated that 83.45 percent of patients at the Charleston VA stated that they felt providers respected what they had to say, 81.75 percent said they felt carefully listened to, 46.79 percent said they felt they could get an urgent appointment right away. 74 percent of patients said they would recommend the hospital.

In death rate metrics, the VA was below the national average in many categories including percentage of patients who died within 30 days of a heart attack (11.7), heart failure (8.1), or a pneumonia diagnosis 15.2), the analysis stated.

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