Monthly Archives: June 2014

Steps VA Has Taken To Address Scandal

The following article was submitted by Dave Keukelaar:

Steps VA has taken to address patient-care scandal


The Associated Press

Published: June 9, 2014


WASHINGTON — Some steps the Department of Veterans Affairs has taken to address a scandal over long patient waits for care and phony records hiding delays at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide:

May 30: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns, he and agency officials announce that:

Top level officials at the agency will not receive performance bonuses this year;
Employees’ performance in meeting a 14-day wait-time target for patients’ appointments will no longer be considered in employee job reviews. The agency found its strapped clinics were not always able to meet that goal and it was pressuring some workers to falsify wait-time information;
Steps will be taken against officials involved in falsifying wait-time data and senior officials at facilities where audits identify problems;
Senior officials will be removed from the VA’s Phoenix facility, a focus of the department’s problems.
June 4: Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson says agency is contacting 1,700 veterans the department’s inspector general found were omitted from the Phoenix center’s official waiting list and is starting to schedule appointments for them.

June 5: Gibson says retaliation won’t be tolerated against agency workers who have complained about covering up of scheduling delays. Gibson makes that vow after independent federal Office of Special Counsel says it is investigating possible retribution against 37 VA employees.

June 9: Gibson announces additional steps including:

Immediate hiring freeze at the VA’s Veterans Health Administration office in Wshington, D.C., and 21 regional Health Administration offices around the U.S.;
Hiring extra clinical and patient-support staffers for the most overburdened VA facilities;
Using temporary staffing measures, including mobile medical units, to accelerate care for veterans on wait lists;
Letting more veterans get more medical care from some local health-care providers;
Collecting data from patients and those making initial appointments to assess their satisfaction with care;
Starting an external audit of VA’s system for scheduling appointment.


VA News Release

The following article was forwarded by Bob Trox, Post Sgt. at Arms:
June 9, 2014

VA Releases Data on Quality, Access to Veterans Healthcare
Acting Secretary Gibson Provides Transparency, Announces Further Actions on Timely Healthcare Access

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the results from its Nationwide Access Audit, along with facility level patient access data, medical center quality and efficiency data, and mental health provider survey data, for all Veterans health facilities.
Full details made public at follow Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson’s commitment last week in Phoenix, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas to provide timely access to quality healthcare Veterans have earned and deserved.
“It is our duty and our privilege to provide Veterans the care they have earned through their service and sacrifice,” said Acting Secretary Gibson. “As the President has said, as Secretary Shinseki said, and as I stated plainly last week, we must work together to fix the unacceptable, systemic problems in accessing VA healthcare.
“Today, we’re providing the details to offer transparency into the scale of our challenges, and of our system itself. I’ll repeat – this data shows the extent of the systemic problems we face, problems that demand immediate actions. As of today, VA has contacted 50,000 Veterans across the country to get them off of wait lists and into clinics. Veterans deserve to have full faith in their VA, and they will keep hearing from us until all our Veterans receive the care they’ve earned.”
Acting Secretary Gibson announced a series of additional actions in response to today’s audit findings and data, including:

· Establishing New Patient Satisfaction Measurement Program
Acting Secretary Gibson has directed VHA to immediately begin developing a new patient satisfaction measurement program to provide real-time, robust, location-by-location information on patient satisfaction, to include satisfaction data of those Veterans attempting to access VA healthcare for the first time. This program will be developed with input from Veterans Service Organizations, outside health care organizations, and other entities. This will ensure VA collects an additional set of data – directly from the Veteran’s perspective – to understand how VA is doing throughout the system.

· Holding Senior Leaders Accountable
Where audited sites identify concerns within the parent facility or its affiliated clinics, VA will trigger administrative procedures to ascertain the appropriate follow-on personnel actions for specific individuals.

· Ordering an Immediate VHA Central Office and VISN Office Hiring Freeze
Acting Secretary Gibson has ordered an immediate hiring freeze at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) central office in Washington D.C. and the 21 VHA Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) regional offices, except for critical positions to be approved by the Secretary on a case-by-case basis. This action will begin to remove bureaucratic obstacles and establish responsive, forward leaning leadership.

· Removing 14-Day Scheduling Goal
VA is eliminating the 14-day scheduling goal from employee performance contracts. This action will eliminate incentives to engage in inappropriate scheduling practices or behaviors.

· Increasing Transparency by Posting Data Twice-Monthly
At the direction of the Acting Secretary, VHA will post regular updates to the access data released today at the middle and end of each month at Twice-monthly data updates will enhance transparency and provide the most immediate information to Veterans and the public on Veterans access to quality healthcare.

· Initiating an Independent, External Audit of Scheduling Practices
Acting Secretary Gibson has also directed that an independent, external audit of system-wide VHA scheduling practices be performed.

· Sending Additional Frontline Team to Address Phoenix
Following his trip to Phoenix VA Medical Center last week, Acting Secretary Gibson directed a VHA frontline team to travel to Phoenix to immediately address scheduling, access, and resource requirements needed to provide Veterans the timely, quality healthcare they deserve.

· Utilizing High Performing Facilities to Help Those That Need Improvement
VA will formalize a process in which high performing facilities provide direct assistance and share best practices with facilities that require improvement on particular medical center quality and efficiency, also known as SAIL, performance measures.
· Applying Immediate Access Reforms Announced in Phoenix to Most Challenged VA Facilities
Last week, Acting Secretary Gibson announced a series of measures to address healthcare access problems in Phoenix. Today, Acting Secretary Gibson announced he’ll apply the same reforms to facilities with the most access problems from the results of the audit, including:

· Hiring Additional Clinical and Patient Support Staff
VA will deploy teams of dedicated human resource employees to accelerate the hiring of additional, needed staff.

· Employing New Staffing Measures
VA’s first goal is to get Veterans off wait lists and into clinics. VA is using temporary staffing measures, along with clinical and administrative support, to ensure these Veterans receive the care they have earned through their service.

· Deploying Mobile Medical Units
VA will send mobile medical units to facilities to immediately provide services to patients and Veterans awaiting care.

· Providing More Care by Modifying Local Contract Operations
VA will modify local contract operations to be able to offer more community-based care to Veterans waiting to be seen by a doctor.

· Removing Senior Leadership Where Appropriate
Where appropriate, VA will initiate the process of removing senior leaders. Acting Secretary Gibson is committed to using all authority at VA’s disposal to enforce accountability among senior leaders.

· Suspending Performance Awards
VA has suspended all VHA senior executive performance awards for FY2014.

· Future Travel
Over the course of the next several weeks, Acting Secretary Gibson will travel to a series of VA facilities across the country. He will hear directly from Veterans and employees about obstacles to providing timely, quality care and how VA can immediately address them.

National audit and patient access data available at

Medical center quality and efficiency (SAIL) and mental health data available at

Village and Town Retiree’s Honored

At the June meeting of the Post, Commander Ann Guest honored our invited guests who have retired from serving the Village and Town of Palmyra.  Commending each of the retirees for their faithful and committed service to the people of the community and their support for the pillars of the American Legion.  Each person honored was given a certificate upon which was written the heartfelt thanks for their service to the community.  Their support was valuable and an important part of our community well-being. They each will be missed but remembered fondly.

l-r Ms. L. Greene, Jim Showman and Dave Dalton are honored at June's Post Meeting. Ms. Greene leaves her post as Town Clerk, Jim leaves as Sgt. of Palmyra Police and Dave Dalton retired as Palmyra Police Chief.  Family members and Commander Ann look on.

l-r Ms. L. Greene, Jim Showman and Dave Dalton are honored at June’s Post Meeting. Ms. Greene leaves her post as Town Clerk, Jim leaves as Sgt. of Palmyra Police and Dave Dalton retired as Palmyra Police Chief. Family members and Commander Ann look on.

Normandy Veteran Interviewed on Rochester, NY’s channel 13

91 Year old Francis Gloeggler went from leading our Memorial Day Parade sitting in a shiny Black 2014 Corvette Stingray (generously donated for us to use by Kitty VanBortel), to sitting in front of an interview contingent at his home in the Maplewood Senior Community. The Coast Guard Veteran spent the time recalling what he had seen as a 21 year old member of an LST (Landing Ship Tanks) crew at Omaha Beach, Normandy. Check out the website and the interview, Local Veteran remembers D-day.



Technology Conference Offered at RIT

Dave Keukelaar offers the following information provided by RIT:

This is Kelly Sorensen from RIT. RIT has put together an incredible conference that will explore the the uses of effective access technology.

Part of this conference will focus on the use of effective access technology and its application to disabled veterans. There is a lot of potential for our region to become a nationally known best practice for combining access technology with our already first rate veterans programs to form an even more formidable community for serving veterans and their families. VA General Counsel Will Gunn and Syracuse IMVF Executive Director and Founder Dr. Tim Haynie will be among the keynote speakers. If a veteran would like to attend dinner on the 17th its $20.

Admission into any of the sessions of this conference is free to veterans (minus dinner). The conference is June 17 and 18 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. For more information and a full schedule please visit

If you’re willing to promote this event on your website, social media or through word of mouth please contact Kelly at

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