Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Review the VA's medical facilities? No! Do tell!

I found this on Advisory.com today, which is a login-only website with information for healthcare folks (administrators, doctors, developers, architects, and that ilk). I’ve copied it here for your infotainment.

VA secretary orders mandatory quality review of all facilities 03/13/2007

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued a directive ordering its 1,400 hospitals and clinics to conduct a “full and immediate review” of facility environments, the Associated Press reports. The order, which was issued last week by VA Secretary Jim Nicholson in an internal memorandum to the department’s medical center directors,comes just weeks after reports surfaced of “roach-infested conditions and shoddy outpatient care” at Washington D.C.-based Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In the memorandum, Nicholson said that the disclosure had “compelled him to redouble efforts to improve the physical environment” at the VA’s outpatient and medical facilities. He mandates that medical center and network directors conduct and supervise the reviews and says that “negative responses are required.” The reports are due by March 14.

In the wake of the revelations about Walter Reed, Nicholson also has increased post-traumatic stress disorder treatment resources, taken action to expedite claims for veterans whoserved in Iraq and Afghanistan, and announced plans to launch an “aggressive hiring program” to hire 500 new
benefits coordinators by June; however, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has called for Nicholson’s ouster in favor of someone “whose first priority [is] the veterans and not the politics surrounding the agency” (Yen, AP/Washington Post, 3/13).

Really? A full and “immediate” review? And it only took weeks? Not days, but weeks! Well, for government work, I guess that’s pretty fast.

The sort of thing we all saw at Walter Reed angers me for two reasons. The first is obvious: we send young men and women to fight a war and this is the best we can do to treat our wounded? What, we’re only really proud of the ones that don’t step on IEDs or something? Second, any private facility (such as MCRI, my future project), or at least any nonprofit facility in the civilian sector (such as Wheatlands) would have been whipped into shape months if not years ago. Why? Because there’s a lot of inspections going on. Nonmilitary healthcare facilities have to be inspected by first the health department and the state (if not also a city) department of healthcare facilities, and these facilities are inspected periodically after they open. Not only that, but if your facility takes Medicare and Medicaid, then CMS (Center for Medicare Services) will inspect your ass. And if your facility is a Level I trauma center, it gets even more inspections. And if your facility undergoes JCAHO inspection in order to lower its insurance rates, it gets inspected a metric shitload. On top of all this, if a civilian saw a mold-stained wall or plaster peeling in their hospital room, you bet your sweet ass someone would be hauled into court over it.

The point is, someone outside of the VA should be inspecting its hospitals. Just because we pay our soldiers shit doesn’t mean we get to treat them that way when they’re in the hospital.


ms. kitty said...

Well said, Pixie!

Sarge said...

Amen, sista!!! Tell it like it is!

BaxterWatch said...

Sometimes, the military reminds me of the CAtholic Church -

both very complicated institutions with rules and power distribution, with little outsider sway or influence.

Unfortunately, it means that things like this go on, and continue to go on, until the public gets outraged enough to demand change.

The little man has no power in those worlds. I'm sure there's a dissertation on the psychology of those type of organizations.

It can be summed up quite easily for both:

"Don't ask, don't tell."

Tom Harper said...

God, it's more blatant than ever. CYA is a much higher priority than providing health care to wounded soldiers. We already knew this, but stories like this just make it all the more maddening.

faded said...

There is nothing I can say, all the previous comments cover the issue. The comments about the Catholic Church are very correct, except there is almost no way to bring pressure on the church. At least the Army Medical Coprs can be made to feel political pressure.