ATLANTA (AP) -- Officials with the Atlanta VA Medical Center are reporting improvements to wait times and care, following a national audit two months ago that identified problems at the facility and prompted further federal review.<br />
The facility's director, Leslie Wiggins, told reporters Friday ( http://bit.ly/1mwTaKY ) that newly compiled figures for January through March show veterans are receiving appointments quicker and obtaining better care for conditions such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure and hospital-acquired infections.<br />
"We're not perfect, but we're continuously improving," Wiggins said. "Things are improving every day."<br />
The figures marked improvement over the previous quarter on 20 of 27 measures tracked by the VA's performance improvement system. However, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the hospital's overall quality ranking among VA facilities remained unchanged, with two stars out of a possible five. The newspaper said that means the facility's in the bottom third of the VA's 128 acute care and surgery facilities.<br />
Atlanta VA officials said they have also added 15 call center positions to reduce the time to answer calls.<br />
The Atlanta VA hospital is one of five VA facilities in Georgia flagged for investigation after a national audit that identified long wait times and possible records tampering at VA hospitals and clinics across the country.<br />
On Thursday, President Barack Obama signed a bill providing the VA with $16.3 billion in emergency funds, which will help hire more doctors and nurses. The bill also makes it easier to fire top VA executives if they fail to perform.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
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