Charleston VA Medical center adjusting to influx of new patients

Charleston VA Medical center adjusting to influx of new patients

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is the sixth fastest growing VA in the country.

The director of the center assured the community Wednesday that with the growth, quality care is still available.

"When you have substantial growth that can bring several challenges with it, and it's being discussed nationally, what we want to talk a little bit about is our access," says director of the center Scott Isaacks.

According to the director, in the last month the center received 99% of their patients for appointments within 30 days.

"The growth that we've seen...has taken a lot of effort... One thing we always talk about in Charleston is we don't want to wait until there's an issue to start addressing the issue," says Isaacks.

In the past year the facility has recruited 270 staff members, including both providers and support staff. Issacks says this center offers more services than most, encouraging veterans from other areas to come.

"We are literally expanding every one of our clinics. We have six community based clinics," says Isaacks. "A new clinic coming in Savannah, we have a new clinic that was built in Heinsville,.. One in Myrtle Beach that's going to be coming as a part of the Veteran Choice at Legislation."

One aspect of the Veteran Choice Act allows veterans to have a choice to go outside of the VA for medical care. This can happen if they live more than 40 miles away from a center, or if they are unable to get an appointment within 30 days.

So far, 411 people have looked into other care options.

"I think it's really a statement that our veterans are choosing to stay with the VA, and we work every day to make sure that when veterans have that choice, they are going to choose the VA," says Isaacks.

In addition to facility expansion, the VA Medical center is expecting to open a new parking garage next summer that will provide 300 more parking spaces for employees and patients.

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