It’s another morning, 6 a.m., and most everyone is thinking about waking up, getting the day started. I’m up and thinking about our Veterans and their care.
I see the new VA hospital as a more prominent resource in the New Orleans area. Our team is more complete and poised to start seeing patients. Of course, there are a million things that still have to come together.
The anxiety is high, the stress is high, the expectations are high.
Within all of it, we have a strong inner confidence that we will deliver a state-of-the-art medical center to Veterans in a region that hasn’t had its own VA hospital in over 10 years, putting good people to work in an area that does not have an overabundance of jobs, moving VA forward to serve our honorable mission for decades to come.
This inner confidence comes from each team member’s personal commitment and loyalty to our Veterans. We are successful because all along this journey we have focused on the patients, all 41,000+ we are currently seeing at our outpatient clinics, in the new Veterans medical center and through multiple community partnerships.
Because our common culture has effectively transitioned from a 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday – Friday, in a system of clinics, to a 24/7 operating environment, our commitment has strengthened.
Because we have successfully transitioned to an organizational culture committed to excellence in customer service at all levels, we have become an organization where all understand their personal connection to the Veterans we serve.
A year from now we will have improved our business processes even further, as well as our patient satisfaction results, and our continued simulations and dress rehearsals will have led us to the full activation of the new hospital.
For me, it’s a dream come true episode of my life. I grew up in New Orleans, worked at the old hospital for 20 years, met my wife at the old hospital 22 years ago, our children were born in New Orleans and it is our home in our hearts. Equally important, it is where I learned about and fell in love with our VA – where I made the personal commitment to serve our honorable mission. A year from now, I will have the privilege of serving our patients and the privilege of leading this organization in bringing back a VA hospital to the “Big Easy.”
A year from now is not a stopping point. It’s a milestone, a high point in Veteran-centered care. I know that we are an organization that’s going to reach it and keep growing.
Editor’s note: This week, Director Rivera spoke with DAV, who is hosting its 2017 national convention in New Orleans, about the new hospital. Click here to watch that interview or watch below.
Fernando O. Rivera has served Veterans for 30 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He currently serves as director of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.