VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, DAV, VFW Dept. of Oklahoma, Publicity Team Member
VA Office of Inspector General Report Released – July 11, 2017
(Bob’s Note: See what happens when you get a hold of a Senator and complain about services at a VA Health Care System Center).
During the week of May 16-20, 2016, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a healthcare inspection in response to Sen. James Inhofe’s request to evaluate a range of clinical, staffing, and administrative practices at the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) in Muskogee, OK. At Sen. Inhofe’s request, OIG coordinated this review with The Joint Commission (TJC). The scope included extensive review of EOVAHCS data, actions, and practices in FY 2015 and quarters 1–3 of FY 2016.
OIG made 19 recommendations in the areas of staffing, quality and administrative practices. They included a recommendation for EOVAHCS to fill key leadership positions that had been in flux in the past year, which contributed to inconsistent oversight and communication in some areas. A recommendation was also made to establish workgroups to improve quality metrics.
Most of EOVAHCS’s Quality, Safety, and Value (QSV) programs had been functioning adequately; however, some improvements were needed in key areas, which are outlined in detail in the full report to Congress. Eight recommendations were made by OIG and these areas are being tracked by the QSV Committee until they are resolved, which was another recommendation.
OIG found that EOVAHCS had difficulty recruiting and retaining employees in some areas, so a recommendation was made to the EOVAHCS Director to continue recruitment and hiring efforts, but ensure alternate methods were in place to meet patient care needs. EOVAHCS is currently using hiring incentives, tele-medicine, and contracted services to meet patient care needs.
OIG recommended the VISN 19 Director conduct a follow-up site visit to ensure corrective actions had been effective and recommended that the EOVAHCS Director continue efforts to enhance call center timeliness. OIG also found that EOVAHCS had not consistently met timeliness goals for Veterans Choice and Non-VA Care Coordination. Several factors affected the system’s ability to ensure timely Non-VA care, including a changing demand for services, an inadequate number of trained staff to process consultation requests, and a limited number of community-based providers. At the time of this review, system managers had already begun implementing VISN recommendations to address Veterans Choice and Non-VA Care Coordination.
OIG made three recommendations to address needed improvement in the areas of abnormal lab result notification and interventions, consultation completion timeliness, and mental health staffing. In addition, OIG found the Emergency Department (ED) is meeting performance targets for timeliness in most measures, but attention is needed to ensure patients who do not require admission are discharged timely from the ED. Lastly, a recommendation was made to ensure that EOVAHCS maintains a clean and safe health care environment in accordance with applicable requirements.
“I have reviewed the OIG’s findings and recommendations and concur with all of them,” said EOVAHCS Director Mark E. Morgan. “We have already implemented or completed 11 of the recommendations and are actively working to complete the last eight by the end of the year.”
I attended the open enrollment and jobs resource fair in Idabel July 13 asking a few questions, one of which is why do I need to re-enroll since I am enrolled in the VA using the Bonham – Dallas North Central Texas Health Care System and have an Veterans Identification Card with its Unique Member Identifier — Department of Defense assigns an electronic data interchange personal identifier (EDIPI) that allows VA to retrieve the Veteran’s health record.
The ones I talked to did not really provide a great answer so I went to the VA Website and found this:
Once enrolled for medical care, do I need to enroll each year?
Enrollments are renewed annually and many veterans will stay enrolled each year without any action on their part. Most veterans who are not receiving monthly compensation or pension checks from VA, however, must complete an annual financial statement known as a Means Test. Completing a Means Test allows the VA to place you in the correct Priority Group for determination of copayments. It also ensures that your local VA receives reimbursement from VA for the health care provided to you.
I enroll in VA for health care, can I receive care anywhere in the VA system?
Yes. Once enrolled, you are part of a national health care system with more than 1,000 locations of care. Generally, you will receive your preventive and primary care at the VA location you have selected as your Preferred Facility during the enrollment process
I also inquired from the heads of the Idabel Clinic, Muskogee personnel about Veterans Transportation Service for those that do not have transportation to the Idabel Clinic or any of the other clinics. I bought a copy of their website (noted below) to see what they would say.
There is a possible upcoming Memorandum of Understanding between the current transportation agencies and the VA that will assist in this challenge. As soon as it does, I will report it along with the telephone numbers to get the transportation. But right now, the below holds true:
The Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) provides transportation for Veterans with special needs and Veterans who don’t have transportation to and from their outpatient appointments.
All Veterans enrolled at the medical center are eligible for the VTS, but top priority will be given to Veterans with disabilities, wheel-chair bound, cancer patients, dialysis and amputee patients and those who are at a high risk for suicide.
How do I schedule a ride?
Veterans can schedule transportation through their VA primary care provider or by calling the VTS call center at 918-577-3500 or toll free at 877-905-4538.