News : New Call Center Helping Green Country Veterans Access Healthcare
Muskogee, OK, Nov 12, 2014 -- A new call center is helping Green Country veterans access healthcare.
Lawmakers slammed the V.A. after learning the wait for appointments was so long, some veterans died before being treated, but the new call center is supposed to turn things around.
The V.A. Medical Center in Muskogee is the first in the region to get a daytime call center. It's working so well, other V.A. clinics are copying.
Debbie Perdue with the Jack C. Montgomery V.A. Medical Center said, "They have one of the hardest jobs in the hospital. They're front line. They're the first encounter with the veteran."
The new call center, crammed into a room the size of a closet, averages 800 calls a day, and that's mostly for appointments.
Perdue was charged with creating the call center after news of the V.A. scandal broke, revealing that over the past ten years, 63,000 veterans never got the appointments they asked for.
In Muskogee, 500 veterans waited more than a month to get into the V.A. hospital.
"We want to try to find areas where we can make improvements for the customer," Perdue said.
Since the call center opened in July, call times have gone from two minutes, to 30 seconds.
The medical center used to have just four patient advocates helping veterans get appointments, now there will be eight employees attached to a headset and computer to do just that.
"We have sorted it out to make it more efficient for the veteran and for the employees," Perdue said.
The call center is so efficient and successful that the Tulsa V.A. clinic will also get a call center.
"We want the veterans to know that we value them. And we want them to come to our medical center," Perdue said.
The changes are part of the largest reorganization in V.A. history, and the new secretary for veterans' affairs isn't done yet.
There's a place on the V.A.'s new website where employees can submit ideas for other changes they think will help.
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Published: Friday, November 14, 2014