Veterans hospitals and clinics across the country are looking for more doctors. MPB's Ezra Wall reports on the needs of one of Mississippi's primary VA facilities.
A shortage of general practice doctors is on one of the problems facing VA clinics, like the Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson. Dr. David Walker is the center's director. He explains why another area of need is for G-I doctors.
“Vietnam veterans represent the largest group that we serve. And they are in their mid-to-late 60s to 80, if you look at their age. And so things like colon cancer, need for scopes, endoscopies, it’s significant,” says Walker.
The doctor shortage isn't the only issue plaguing the VA. In recent years the system has been criticized over how long it takes patients to see a doctor. In 2014, the Associated Press reported an average 45-day wait time for new patients at Jackson's VA Medical Center. This month, the number's aren't that much better. According to the VA's Access to Care website, the average Jackson wait time is 41 days.
Bobby Moore is a Vietnam veteran who receives care at the Montgomery VA Medical Center. He says he appreciates the efforts of the staff.
“I think they’re doing a real good job. I think they’ve been good to me. I don’t know about anybody else, but I know they’ve been good to me,” says Moore.
Center Director Dr. David Walker says the hospital partners with the University of Mississippi Medical Center on a residency program. Walker says he hopes good experiences with the VA will help some of those doctors decide to stay.