HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Patient wait times have improved at the VA Montana Health Care System and an expansion is underway at the medical center at Fort Harrison, according to the system’s new director.

Dr. Judy Hayman said in a recent speech updating the state of the Montana VA system that staffing is nearly full at most clinics, and recruiting for doctors and nurses is underway at others.

“We continue to have some challenges in pocket and limited areas, but generally speaking we can get veterans in when they want to be seen and need to be seen,” she said in her State of Montana VA speech.

The 18,000-square-foot addition to the medical center outside Helena is expected to be completed in December, she said.

The VA also wants to expand its Great Falls facility and is looking for a new 3,000-square-foot location to open in Havre by early next year, the Great Falls Tribune reported.

Plus, 42 homeless veteran housing units at Fort Harrison are expected to be filled this year, Hayman said.

Hayman became the Montana VA director in June, replacing Dr. Kathy Berger, who is now director of the Chillicothe, Ohio, VA Medical Center.

Wait times have been a long-running problem with the Montana VA. A 2014 audit found that patients had to wait and average of 48 days before their first appointment with a primary doctor.

A couple of years later, an internal investigation was launched into allegations of misconduct among senior leaders at the Fort Harrison medical center.

The Montana VA has 1,200 employees in 17 sites across the state and serves more than 47,000 veterans.

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