IRON MOUNTAIN – The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain is pleased to announce that it will begin offering Veterans direct scheduling of audiology and optometry services at the Iron Mountain facility on September 1, 2016. This means Veterans enrolled in VA health care will be able to directly schedule routine audiology and optometry appointments without a referral from their primary care provider.
“This change will provide more timely care for these services and frees up our primary care providers to see patients who need more than just a referral,” said Nicole Kleist, the medical center’s Group Practice Manager and leader in transitioning to direct scheduling of audiology and optometry appointments.
Under the former system, Veterans would have to see their primary care physician to get a referral for an audiologist or an optometrist, which added an extra appointment for routine care and took up primary care appointments for a simple referral. Providers still have the option of referring Veterans to audiology and optometry for medical conditions needing a referral.
Veterans may directly schedule routine appointments for both audiology and services by contacting any primary care clerk at the medical center or its community based outpatient clinics or by calling 906-774-3300, extension 33115. Existing audiology patients may continue to contact audiology directly at extension 32465.
Direct scheduling of audiology and optometry services will improve the overall Veteran experience and access to care at the Iron Mountain-based facility, which is the only VA facility in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin that provides these services. This is part of the VA’s transformation efforts to improve healthcare access, and the goal is that by the end of the year all VA medical centers will be offering direct scheduling for audiology and optometry services.
“The direct scheduling program affirms our commitment to fulfill our motto of being focused on excellence and putting our Veterans first,” said Jim Rice, Director of the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center.
Other recent efforts by the medical center to improve access include expanding its telehealth capabilities and holding two access stand-downs to make sure that no patients were waiting an undue amount of time for more urgent care. Currently, ninety-eight percent of the medical center’s patients are getting appointments within thirty days.