Central Alabama VA offering Saturday primary care appointments - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Central Alabama VA offering Saturday primary care appointments

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)

In an ongoing effort to improve access, the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System has extended hours into the weekend at several facilities for primary care appointments.

Several months ago, officials revealed that they were looking at the change and now, it's happening.

The new hours, effective immediately, have been put in place at facilities where the VA saw the biggest need.

“We're looking to see the veterans where they want to be seen and when they want to be seen. We found that the greatest demand for weekend hours was in Columbus, Tuskegee, and Montgomery,” said Garth Miller, Associate Director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, or CAVHCS.

CAVHCS has campuses in Montgomery and Tuskegee and clinics in Dothan, Montgomery, Monroeville and the Wiregrass in Alabama as well as Columbus and Ft. Benning in Georgia. The facilities provide healthcare to more than 48,000 veterans with a workforce of over 1,600 employees. 

In Montgomery, primary care patients can make Saturday appointments at the Perry Hill Road campus, in Tuskegee at the VA campus, and in Columbus at the Fort Benning VA Clinic.

“We're going to work a full day Saturday so we'll have six full days of appointments to be able to work at expanding our access to primary care," Miller said. “We are scheduling appointments at those three locations. Veterans would call in as usual to schedule their appointments and they would indicate if their preference is to be seen on Saturday.”

CAVHCS is looking at the possibility of offering Saturday primary care appointments in the Wiregrass and Monroeville in the future.

“If the demand is there, if the need is there, we will, but right now, our most immediate needs are in our Montgomery, Tuskegee and Columbus markets,” Miller stated.

To address a shortage of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, CAVHCS has been aggressively recruiting. Since January, they've hired nine new providers and the tenth is on their way.

“Those are all primary care providers that will be dispersed, based upon need, in Montgomery, Tuskegee and Columbus,” Miller explained.

CAVHCS is working with the national recruitment program and a national recruiter has been embedded in Montgomery to continue working to attract more providers to the area.

As part of recruitment efforts, CAVHCS is offering benefits and incentives for providers, including relocation expenses and education debt reduction.

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