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El Paso VA center cutting patient wait times with phone calls

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 6:47pm

The El Paso Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been able to significantly cut patient appointment wait times with a simple approach: phone calls.

Dr. Marshall N'guessan, chief of the VA's audiology department, said he and his staff have started calling some patients for checkups, rather than having them come in to the office for a follow-up visit.

"So far, it's been working," N'guessan said.

The doctor said follow-up phone calls have freed him up to see more new patients, and have slashed appointment waiting periods from two to three months last fall, to five to six days.

Dr. N'guessan said the VA facility in Phoenix has invited members of his team to visit and share ideas.

Administration at the El Paso center said it is also considering expanding the practice to other departments.

But like a hearing aid, N'guessan said the telephone approach is not one size fits all.

He said depending on a veteran's specific needs, some patients do need to come in to be seen in person.

"We really have to assess and evaluate," he said.

Army veteran Donald Marshall told NewsChannel 9 phone call follow-up visits would help him keep some extra gas money.

"It would save me driving 40 miles," he said.


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