Local News

VA outpatient clinic expected to cut Fayetteville wait times

Posted September 4, 2015 6:15 p.m. EDT

— After seven years of planning and construction, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will open an outpatient clinic in Fayetteville in November.

The 250,000-square-foot VA clinic on Raeford Road should shorten the amount of time it takes for veterans to get medical treatment, said Elizabeth Goolsby, director of the Fayetteville VA Medical Center.

A federal study last year found the Fayetteville VA hospital had the second-longest wait nationwide to see a doctor. While the national average was 6.95 days, veterans in the Fayetteville area had to wait an average of 28.45 days.

Goolsby said the veteran population in the area has been growing seven times faster than the national average, aggravating a space crunch and shortage of physicians.

"We need to make sure that we've got space in order to care for our veterans, and not only just space, but space that's conducive to care, space that is inviting for our veterans and for our staff members," she said.

The outpatient clinic will allow the VA to consolidate its primary care services at one location, Goolsby said. Mental health services, an outpatient surgical center and specialty care also will be available at the clinic.

Also, an electric shuttle will carry veterans from across the 1,800-space parking area to the clinic's front door.

The 75-year-old VA hospital also will take on expanded responsibilities, Goolsby said.

"What we'll be able to do is to increase the size of our dental clinic to about three times what it is now in order to meet the needs of the veterans, enlarge our medical oncology program and also enlarge our urgent care center," she said.

The VA also is working with East Carolina University and Campbell University to have physician interns working at Fayetteville hospital, and Goolsby said administrators have put together an incentives package to recruit more doctors.