Too Few Doctors and Nurses for Veterans in Some Areas
Bridget Villegas, a medical support specialist, at an operating room in a Veterans Health Administration medical center in Aurora, Colorado. Colorado had one of the nationâ€™s highest rates of staffing vacancies for VHA facilities. Dan Elliot/The Associated Press
As the nation prepares to honor its veterans Nov. 12, many veterans in rural areas and some cities still face long wait times for health care because there aren’t enough doctors, nurses and support staff to provide it.
Almost 40,000 of the 335,000 positions in the Veterans Health Administration are vacant, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees the VHA. The VHA serves about 9 million veterans.
The VHA’s turnover rate is less than half the rate for the health care industry overall.
However, a Stateline analysis of recently released federal figures shows the VHA has a severe vacancy problem in high-cost urban areas such as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and in largely rural states, such as Montana and Colorado.
Montana and Colorado have the highest state job vacancy rates at more than 20 percent, followed by Utah, Oklahoma and Maryland. At the other end, vacancies in Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Rhode Island are less than 8 percent.
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