How VA Healthcare Facilities are Handling the Growing Number of Female Veterans

 In an interview with Randy Williamson, the Director of Health Care Issues at GAO, he discusses his report analyzing how VA Healthcare facilities are handling the growing number of female veterans.  The primary concern for health care facilities in relation to the growing number of females leaving the military is understanding the needs of women. With issues such as military sexual trauma, having privacy in exam rooms is of the utmost importance. Included in the report were images of two different exam rooms.  The first showed the exam table facing away from the door, which created privacy for the veteran being seen by clinic facilitators.  While in the second image, the exam table was facing the door, which allowed individuals passing by to view the patient with no privacy curtain for anonymity. 

Williamson believes having separate clinics for men and women would resolve a lot of these concerns, but he understands the VA is not equipped, nor has the space to have separate designated facilities. The Choice Act, a bill that was recently passed giving veterans the ability to choose a medical provider outside the VA, may be able to pick up where the VA is lacking. Currently 13% of veterans waiting to have scheduled appointments at VA facilities wait over five days to be scheduled. This number does not take into account veterans waiting for emergency care. The Choice Act also gives women the opportunity to seek out a private maternity care provider where currently maternity care is not offered by the VA.

At the end of the interview, Williamson provided two pieces of advice for the VA. The VA needs to put more effort in making sure exam rooms are set up properly to ensure privacy.  The second piece of advice is that the VA must do an adequate job monitoring the care options used for the choice programs.


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