Arkansas' VA medical centers and clinics fared slightly better than the national average when it comes to appointments completed within the 30-day federal timeliness goal.
The Associated Press examined waiting times at 940 VA hospitals and outpatient clinics during the period from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28 to gauge any changes since a scandal over delays led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. An average of 2.8 percent of appointments weren't completed within 30 days nationally, whereas the rate was 2.53 percent in Arkansas.
But a shortage of mental health doctors and increased demand drove up the rate to 3.94 percent at the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks-Fayetteville and about 3 percent at the Eugene J. Towbin VA HealthCare Center in North Little Rock.
Several rural outpatient clinics in Arkansas also experienced longer wait times because of staffing, including the El Dorado facility, which jumped to 5.65 percent in January and 7.69 percent in February.