They will hire 52 thousand health workers

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is more than halfway to meeting its health care worker hiring goal this fiscal year, and it announced that it will hit it this fall.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) seeks to hire 52,000 employees before the end of fiscal year 2023, in order to replace staff lost to attrition during the critical period of the pandemic, as well as to meet increased demand for healthcare workers under the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.

VA Assistant Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal said Thursday that meeting that full hiring goal would result in a 3 percent increase in the number of health care employees on board the agency. He added that so far this fiscal year, VHA has seen a 1.5% increase in the number of new employees.

“That is in less than half the year, so I am optimistic that we will reach that goal. But challenges abound with contracting for all health care systems, so we weren't settling at all,” Elnahal explained. “We continue to make the changes we need to make the hiring process faster and better in order to deliver on the mission.”

While the VHA was ahead of schedule with its hiring goals, Elnahal said that throughout the year applications for healthcare workers "up and down seasonally."

The PACT Act, signed into law last August, is expected to attract an additional 3.5 million veterans to health care in Virginia.

Elnahal said Virginia saw 144,000 new health care enrollees between August 2022 and mid-January 2023. That's about 21,000 new enrollees above what the VA saw the year before.

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