VA’s Blueprint for Excellence: Strategies for more Veteran-centric care


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“….To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.”

These words from President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address guide the mission of today’s VA.

Over the last two months, VA’s secretary, Bob McDonald, has been traveling throughout the U.S. listening to Veterans and discussing with them the issues that VA is facing.

“The problems we face are serious,” Sec. McDonald acknowledges. “The President, Congress, Veterans service organizations, taxpayers, and VA’s rank and file all understand the need for immediate reforms to achieve three non-negotiable goals—goals we set for ourselves more than two months ago on our ‘Road to Veterans Day.’”

VA's Blueprint for ExcellenceWith Veterans Day just one week away, VA continues to work towards those goals and to better serve and care for those who have “borne the battle.”

Earlier this fall, the Veterans Health Administration released its Blueprint for Excellence, an important step in VA’s transformation.

“This blueprint is critical to achieving part three of our Road to Veterans Day initiative—setting a course for long-term excellence and reform,” Sec. McDonald told the annual meeting of the Institute of Medicine. “It is VA’s template to re-establish the department’s preeminence and leadership in American healthcare.”

Read the Blueprint for Excellence and the Secretary’s remarks to the Institute of Medicine for more on what VA is doing to set its course for the future.

 

Author

Megan Moloney

— Megan served at VA from May 2013 to July 2018. She is the daughter, granddaughter and spouse of Army and Navy Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Comments

  1. Owens Earl Jr    

    As Honorable Discharge Veteran Why are we not asking our government for Free Dental it is a big part Health care that they refuse to give us Bad Gums and teeth will kill you just ask your Doctor

  2. Richard M. Levine    

    The VA will never become a world leader in health care if they do not cover dental care and eye care on an equal basis with medical care. Also, while doing advanced medical research, the fruits of that research aren’t utilized at the VA unless private industry adopts these discoveries. Case in point is the VA’s development of a gel replacement for the fixed lens gold standard of cataract surgery. Unfortunately, years have passed and no private industry has pick this amazing advance and bring it into use in the VA or outside. I wonder how many of these advances are sitting in file drawers in the VA. The VA also needs to embrace alternative medicine to keep costs down and bring into use more effective treatments with less detrimental side effects.

    As concerns the choice of VA Secretary, I need it proved to me that Bob McDonald is the right choice to turn around the VA. As far as I can see he is not a turn-around expert, and such an expert is sorely needed here. I noticed in the news that he was forced out of his position at P&G for not spending as much time on the job as expected by some large stock holders, and for not paying attention to falling profits. Of course, I don’t know how accurate this picture of him is, but I saw a video of him at P&G, and he was not very impressive.

  3. Milan B. Lemmon    

    I agree! The VA has a long ways to go. I have no complaints about the care I get at the VA here in Spokane, Wa.

  4. James Jones    

    Veteran-centric care is a wonderful pipe dream. However, inefficiency at the scheduling desks, check-in counters where in-person appointments are made, and phone-in appointments are still very challenging for veterans. For example:

    I saw my primary doctor at Jefferson Barracks (JB), MO clinic April 30 2014. Because of issues she wanted to see me again in 6 months. I waited, I called, and finally to inquire about an appointment, I drove to to JB 2 days before the desired appointment to attempt to schedule this appointment in person. The young lady who called me forward, Chavoya,
    scanned my SC VA Card. She asked me standard ID verification questions to ensure that I was me. Then she did it again #2, then again #3; at this point I asked her about an appointment to see the doctor and a lipids blood draw prior to seeing the doctor. She played with her computer a bit, then asked me the ID verificiation questions again. I then asked her if she realized that were going in persistent roundabouts of the same information, a restated my reasons for being there, and further stated the reasons I was there. This question was ignored and she began again asked me the same questions. When I interrupted her and asked for an immediate appointment, she then looked over at an older employee and asked, “Can we do that”?
    So, after 15 minutes of interactions, she had no idea how to perform the tasks associated with making the two appointments, and actually had to have instructions from someone else to perform the tasks. She gave me a handwritten appt with the doctor which may or may not be scheduled and never did address the lipids blood draw. I did tell her and the other employee near her that I would be reporting this to the Hospital Director and Chief of Staff.
    I don’t think VA can be Veteran-Centric without remedial training and retraining those who make appointments which get us before those who perform medical tasks. VETERANS CANNOT BE PROCESSED PAST THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNTERS IN ORDER TO HAVE APPOINTMENTS. These shortcomings are still rampant after years of neglect. My question becomes, when will appointment scheduling become a reality within the Veterans Affairs systems?

    1. Dan F    

      I, too, have had that experience. I also have had to stand for 15 minutes to check-in being the only person in line waiting for a clerk to stop talking to a co-worker where I could see her chatting with another employee in a small office behind the clerk’s desk.. When she finally sat her fat butt down at her desk, she opens a window and yells, “next.” I was still the only one in line. I asked her if she needed a few more minutes because one of the things I like best in the whole world is to wait for 15 minutes standing alone waiting to check in.

      Her excuse? “I am the only one here.” I then said, ” I must have been seeing things, I am old, and my eyes aren’t what they were, but I would swear that was a human being you were talking to in that little office over there.” She never got the point, never apologized. Her only other words after I gave her my name and last 4 was, “You are checked in, have a seat.”

      I pitched a b**ch at the doctor. She apologized (which wasn’t necessary), told me they have had other complaints about her. The doctor also told me that her supervisor can’t do anything about her attitude.

      Compare that to my last private doctor visit. I walk up to a window, the girl who was talking to another employee stopped her conversation in less than 20 seconds, greeted me with a good morning, apologized for the few (literally) seconds I had to wait. She then told me the doctor was running on time and could I please have a seat.

      Gee what could be the difference of why these people behave differently? Maybe it is because anyone with a half of a brain realizes that performance matters in the private sector.

  5. Sandra Demoruelle    

    At first sight, this is an improvement over the Strategic Plan Sec.McDonald inherited. Glad to see Objectives – something that can be “measured” and provide feedback.

    Thanks to VACO for producing this working document!

  6. Robert L Wall Sr    

    During all my years with the VA providing my health care, I have NEVER had a problem with any VA employee, physician, including health care providers in the Boston VA Medical System, Boston VA Clinic and the Durham VA Medical System including the Raleigh Medical & Mental Health Clinics.
    I got SUPERIOR treatment at ALL of the above-mentioned sites.

  7. Robert L Wall Sr    

    During ALL my years with the VA as my care-provider, I have NEVER had “problem” with any employee, physician, or health-maintenance person during my treatments in the Boston VA Medical System and the Durham NC Medical System – Including the Boston Clinic and the Raleigh Med & Mental Health Clinics.
    I could not ask for better care!!

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