Monday, November 24, 2014
Healthcare Visitation Task Force Off and Running
The Department of New York’s VA Healthcare Task Force completed its first visitation of a VA healthcare facility in November, and is set to make a second site visit in December.
The first-ever visit by a state-level task force took place Nov. 18-19 at Samuel S. Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany. The visit was preceded by four town hall meetings where the task force heard first-hand from veterans about the care and services received at Stratton VA, reports Task Force Chairman R. Michael Suter, who is also New York’s chairman of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation.
Two more town hall meetings are scheduled for the Bronx prior to the Dec. 16-17 visitation at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center there.
Delegates at the Department Convention in July voted to mandate the site visits. Reports generated from these visits will be “compiled into a publication illustrating the manner in which each respective facility utilizes resources as well as the facility’s challenges and limitations,” Suter noted. The initial site visits, he said, aim to get an overview of “VA’s progress achieved over the past ten years, current issues and concerns as well as VA’s five-year strategic plan for VA’s budget, staffing, enrollment, outreach, hospital programs, mental health, intensive care unit (ICU), long-term care, homeless programs, information technology and construction programs.”
The site visit program “is off and running across the state,” Suter said, and although very new, it is “a complete success,” thanks to training provided by former national visitation task force member Pat Rourk and Headquarters staff, and thanks to site visit and town hall meeting coordination provided by Steve Bowman, program vice chairman for VISN 2 (Veterans Integrated Service Network – upstate New York area), and Dan Morea, VISN 3 (downstate NY area) program coordinator.