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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An agreement intended to help decrease wait times for veterans seeking medical care has been forged between Air Force and Veterans Affairs officials in Ohio.
The five-year agreement signed by Wright-Patterson Air Force Medical Center and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials allows VA medical facilities in Ohio to send veterans to Wright-Patterson's medical center for inpatient or outpatient services.
The VA in many parts of the country has been plagued by long wait times for patients, and VA facilities across the nation are working to cope with rising demand for care. Officials have said they hope the agreement will significantly increase the number of VA patients who can seek treatment at the hospital and also allow the medical center to better use its resources.
"We think this cost-effective solution could be a model for other regions as well," Col. Tim Ballard, the 88th Medical Group commander at Wright-Patterson, said in a statement.
The pact covers VA patients enrolled at one of five major VA facilities in Ohio that fall under the Veterans Integrated Service Network 10. The facilities, which are in Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Chillicothe, serve patients in Ohio, southeastern Indiana and northern Kentucky.
Jack Hetrick, the network's director, said in a statement that the partnership is "critically important" and the VA will work with the medical center to ensure services are delivered in a way that anticipates and meets veterans' needs.
Base spokesman Daryl Mayer said the agreement creating the Buckeye Federal Healthcare Consortium also can help the medical center, which at times has excess capacity in some areas. Patients currently in the military who are treated at the center are often younger and healthier than some veterans seeking care, he said.
"This helps train our doctors," he said, adding that it will help keep medical personnel prepared for any wartime missions.
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