BALTIMORE - When an audit of the Department of Veterans Affairs showed Maryland veterans were waiting on average 81 days for a primary care appointment, Dr. Peter Beilenson stepped in.
"These are people who have not been able to get in for their initial visits for a significant period of time," Dr. Beilenson said.
He started Evergreen Health back in 2010. Now, the non-profit is partnering with the VA Maryland Health Care System to cut down on wait times.
"The healthcare at the Veterans Administration is really quite good. The problem has been is that they have been stuck not having enough capacity to serve patients," Dr. Beilenson said.
Thursday, the VA announced a one-year $485,000 contract with Evergreen. It will give veterans on the wait list the option to go through Evergreen Health or remain waiting for the VA.
"We are very honored to serve those who have served us. Many of these veterans have been without care for 90 days or much longer. And so we are very pleased to be able to offer these services," Dr. Beilenson said.
Dr. Beilenson says the option mostly affects veterans new to the system. He says the wait times will be 'considerably shorter' with veterans waiting just a few days to be seen.
It's a part of the VA's 'Aggressive Action Plan' that they kicked off earlier this summer.
The VA released a statement to In Focus Investigators:
"The VA Maryland Health Care System is pleased to partner with Evergreen Health Care to help reduce the wait time for our new Veteran patients to receive a primary care appointment. This partnership is a major component of our aggressive action plan to improve patient access and demonstrates our commitment to delivering safe, quality and compassionate care to Maryland’s Veterans. We have already seen a reduction in the wait time for new Veteran patients to receive a primary care appointment throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System, which indicates that our aggressive action plan is working. This new partnership with Evergreen Health Care will serve as an additional resource to improve access to primary care for new Veteran patients by offering them a choice in the community."