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El Paso VA Health Care System town hall held in Las Cruces

El Paso Veterans Affairs Health Care System Director Pete Dancy says they’re working on fixing issues to provide better services for veterans.

At a quarterly town hall meeting in Las Cruces Thursday, some Borderland veterans had ideas about what problems need to be tackled first, while others were grateful their voices were being heard. Over and over again they said the Veterans Affairs health care system is broken.

One by one, El Paso and Las Cruces veterans told Dancy what’s wrong and even suggested how to fix things.

“Answer the phone. Should be simple. I have complained about this for years,” one woman told ABC-7.

Dancy himself was very candid with agreeing that work needs to be done.

In Las Cruces the VA clinic will be moving and expanding. Dancy believes it will be a twofold solution to long VA wait times for care and the inadequate staffing.

“Wait times … that’s a key issue that I’ve identified since I’ve been here in November,” Dancy said. “Another issue is in terms of staffing. In some areas we don’t have adequate provider staffing. We’re working very diligently in getting staff on board. I think those are just a couple key areas that we’ve identified and are working on very diligently. “

As for the El Paso clinic, Dancy said to expect the increased security measures to be the new norm. The changes were prompted after former veteran, staffer and patient Jerry Serrato shot and killed Dr. Timothy Fjordbak this past January before committing suicide.

Veterans at the meeting said it’s not easy for someone to take such harsh criticisms, especially to their face. But, each voice does more than tell a story to Dancy. It tells him and his staff how they need to move forward.

Dancy said 60 percent of the 800-member staff at the EPVAHCS are veterans themselves.

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