About a dozen Phoenix-area veterans switching to Tucson VA - Tucson News Now

Nearly a dozen Phoenix-area veterans switch to Tucson VA

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Problems at the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix could have veterans turning to the VA in Tucson for help.

As many as 40 patients in Phoenix may have died because of delays in their care. Investigators are still looking into those claims.

In the meantime, a spokesman for the Tucson-based Southern Arizona VA Health Care System said the local VA has been getting inquiries from Phoenix-area veterans wanting to switch to Tucson.

Once a veteran is in the VA system he or she can go to any VA facility for care.

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System Public Affairs Officer Steve Sample said, in the last week, the local VA has received about a dozen inquiries from Phoenix-area veterans asking to establish primary care appointments in Tucson.

Since Tucson is a destination for tourists and winter visitors, the Southern Arizona VA says it's used to dealing with variations in the number of patients needing care.

"The winter visitors-- we get quite a bit of an up-tick in the patients that we have to deal with. Even the Gem and Mineral Show, we get additional patients that we deal with and that's not unlike any of the other facilities, health care systems, within the city of Tucson," Sample said.

He said the Southern Arizona VA has ways to adjust if the demand for care increases.

"We use non-VA care, sending care out to the local community, if need be. We also contract for other physicians to come in and use those, along with using nurse pracs (practitioners) and physician assistants to help meet the increased demand," Sample said.

He said, even if there is a big influx of patients from Phoenix, he doesn't expect it to affect the 56,000 veterans who use the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.

He said the VA in Tucson typically can meet an enrolled veteran's need for routine care in less than two days.

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