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Fayetteville VA hospital seeing shortage of ER docs

Posted September 10, 2014

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— Imagine an emergency room with no doctors. That's exactly what some veterans seeking treatment at the VA Medical Center in Faytteville say they've recently encountered.

Veronica Bailey went to the hospital around 1 a.m. Sunday with abdominal pains and said she was shocked when she was told she would have to wait seven hours because there were no doctors available to examine her.

"It's a disgrace. I mean, we have given our best young years of our life to Uncle Sam, and this is what we get back?" said Bailey, who served 22 years in the military.

In addition to no doctors, veterans are still complaining about long wait times for basic services.

"I came in 11 a.m. on Tuesday to get my blood pressure checked," Norman McCollum said. "I didn't see a doctor until 9 p.m. that night."

A representative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., says what's happening in Fayetteville is all about the numbers. The annual growth rate of vets using VA hospitals nationwide is about 1 percent.

Because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fayetteville's veteran population, however, is at 7.2 percent, and the veterans' hospital is struggling to increase the number of doctors on staff to meet the growing demand for medical services.

Jeffery Melvin, a public affairs officer at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center, said the hospital has had to limit emergency service at times because of staffing shortages with its emergency room provider service.

In July, it did not renew the contract of the company providing ER doctors in Fayetteville.

Melvin said that all patients are screened and evaluated by nurses for acute, life-threatening conditions.

A fix is in place, however. Melvin said the hospital has contracted with a new provider and is in the process of adding ER doctors to the staff.

"We're credentialing the new providers, and I would say, over the next couple of weeks, we should expect that kind of condition would not happen again," he said.

That should be complete by Oct. 1.

The medical center is also addressing the long wait times by opening up temporary clinics in both Jacksonville and Fayetteville.

Hospital administrators say they believe that, once the clinics open, reduced wait times will eventually follow.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • baldy64 Sep 11, 2014

    Obama care - "You can keep your doctor or choose your own dr" - yeah right. I recently moved out of North Carolina, and have retiree Tricare prime and am required to see a dr. at the base. I wanted to see a dr. 6 miles down the road who would suit my needs, but I cannot. Instead I have to drive 30 miles/40 minutes away to the military base in heavy traffic. Thanks Obama for the 25 years my husband spent in the military, I cannot chose my own dr. or go to one in my own town.

  • Ijaz Fahted Sep 11, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    You think you know better how to run things? Man up and get involved, show us your mad skills.

    As for the rest of your commentary....

    Thanks for showing us that you have distaste for the Government and Obamacare. We didn't know that folks were upset about this Obamacare until you showed up and clued us in. I'm guessing that you have no clue that this is about the VA hospital and the VA medical care for our Vets and not the general public or Obamacare.

  • mike275132 Sep 11, 2014

    Ah, Government Healthcare,
    Remember now , the Government knows how best to run things.

    Enjoy your shiny new ObamaCare/ObamaCaid cards -
    With no Doctor or Hospital to take them.

  • Matt Wood Sep 11, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Please let this be sarcasm... on this site you can never be sure!

  • Anita Woody Sep 11, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I agree with you 100%

  • Jazz99 Sep 11, 2014

    "I came in 11 a.m. on Tuesday to get my blood pressure checked," Norman McCollum said. "I didn't see a doctor until 9 p.m. that night."

    You can go to the drugstore and do it yourself in 15 minutes. Is there a reason to go to the hospital?

    Or you can buy the gizmo and do it at home. I hope he didn't drive a 100 miles to get to the hospital.

  • miseem Sep 11, 2014

    Whatever is decided, don't throw money at the problem. Many people have commented that money will not solve the school situation, so I figure it will not help here either. Just find doctors, nurses, techs, orderlies, and so forth willing to work for low pay, bad hours, and poor facilities because they are dedicated to caring for sick people. And willing to accept all the blame when the system fails but no credit when someone is helped. As with teachers, there should be no shortage of people lining up for these jobs. And for the ones working in health care now, stop complaining, be happy you have a job.

  • diana123 Sep 11, 2014

    there is a shortage of nurses in this country too, duhh! the phillipino nurses started coming in here years ago because of their country's lousy pay. but it is still not enough. nurses are doing double shifts and being call in on their days off with a "pretty please?" approach!

  • xylem01 Sep 11, 2014

    Why do we even have a veteran's administration? Why not give them an insurance card so they can go to any doctor/hospital? It just makes no sense.

  • Cindy Rose Sep 11, 2014
    user avatar

    It's shameful to see the condition of the VA Medical Center in Fayetteville; it used to be a very efficient facility; apparently not anymore. Shameful.