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A committee will meet this week to talk about how veterans can get better medical care at the V.A. hospital in Phoenix.

This will be the second meeting of the group made up of service organizations, community health providers and members of the Phoenix V.A.. It was called together by Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema last Thursday to try to find solutions to the hospital's problems.

There are apparently a lot of job openings at the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Hospital in Phoenix.

During a visit to the hospital last Thursday, acting V.A. head Sloan Gibson said the VA needs to fill 300 jobs there, and that it takes about three months to go through the red tape to get someone hired.

Sinema said that is unacceptable.

"We can't wait for the bureaucratic tape that it will take to hire all of those people," she said. "In the short term, the V.A. must contract with private providers in the community to insure that we're providing high quality care in a timely and accessible manner to veterans."

Sinema said she thinks that one obstacle is that pay for healthcare workers at the V.A. hospital is lower than it would be if they worked at another hospital.

"It's my hope that the V.A. will exercise some flexibility to offer competitive wages to hire some of the best and the brightest to come in and work at the facility," she said.

Sinema said that the committee that she has convened will focus on providing for the mental health care of patients. She did not say what day the second meeting will take place.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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