S. Nevada VA hospital making efforts to improve care - 8 News NOW

S. Nevada VA hospital making efforts to improve care

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LAS VEGAS -- The secretary for the United States Veteran Affairs system says he is not stepping down.

Calls for his resignation came after reports that veteran patients died on waiting lists in Phoenix. Nationally, the Veterans Affairs system is under scrutiny, and the VA system here in southern Nevada has had its own controversies.

8 News NOW walked through two different VA facilities and saw a lot of veterans happy with the services they are getting. However, there are many patients who do have complaints, and the hospital has even been investigated by the inspector general.

In southern Nevada, the demand for patient care is growing faster than anywhere else.

"It is the largest integrated health care delivery system in the world," Chief of Staff Dr. Ramu Komanduri said.

Dr. Komanduri admits since the VA hospital opened in August 2012 there have been growing pains. A report released last week by the inspector general shows wait times for the emergency room are too long. One veteran sat for nearly five hours before seeing a doctor.

"We are aggressively addressing that so veterans get in quicker and get their healthcare in a timely manner," Komanduri said.

Komanduri says the hospital is working on cutting down wait times by expanding the emergency department and adding 14 beds. In the meantime, he says the VA system is supplying veterans with some of the best traditional and even non-traditional kinds of treatment.

Artis August is an army veteran and was skeptical of meditation at first.

"She was talking to me about hums, and vibrations, and lights, and sounds," August said.

He had a heart attack about a year ago and needed a triple bypass. August isn't sure how to explain it, but he says he is already feeling better.

"I just feel it inside of me, it is something I feel," August said.

Dr. Komanduri says in some areas veterans are getting better care than most civilians, but they're working to improve the areas where they lag. There have also been reports about veterans in southern Nevada forced to wait months before seeing specialty physicians.

Komanduri says in some cases veterans have had longer than normal waits but he says most are around the same wait as patients outside the VA system would have.

"Our focus is on how do we improve the system and we know we need more timely care," he said.

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