VA Healthcare-VISN 4 Midyear Review
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We've just completed the first half of fiscal year 2012. It's been an eventful six months, filled with accomplishments that will improve care for VISN 4's Veterans.
In this fiscal year, for example, we've become significantly more accessible to our patients. Every one of our network's primary care teams is now able to communicate with Veterans through secure e-mails.
We're increasing our pioneering use of e-consults to improve access to specialty care for our Veterans and primary care providers in rural locations. More than 15 of our specialty clinics now use e-consults—and our specialists answer consult questions in an average of four days from when they are received.
Another way in which we've shared information with each other has been through the creation of a virtual collaborative. Since January, all of our patient care teams throughout the VISN have met twice a month by teleconference to discuss ways to improve our care. The collaboration is one of the reasons we are among the top ten performers for all VISN patient care teams in all five Central Office performance measures this year.
VISN 4 continues to do its part to end Veterans' homelessness. This fiscal year, we've helped more than 5,700 Veterans in our homeless programs; we're on pace to serve many more than last year. We're also right on track in our goal to provide permanent housing for eligible Veterans under the HUD-VASH program.
To support Secretary Shinseki's goal of finding employment for recently-returning Veterans, we've participated in two national Veterans' job fairs. We've also improved our ability to support Veterans, and our communities, in emergency situations by enhancing our local emergency management programs.
Another way we're improving our ability to serve Veterans in our network is through our ambitious construction program. Our new Northfield, New Jersey CBOC is 10,000 square feet in area—four times the size of the clinic that it replaced.
Our new Butler Community Living Center already cares for 30 Veterans. When it's fully completed, it will have the capacity to serve 60 Veterans at a time and will encompass 54,000 square feet.
Finally, Pittsburgh's Ambulatory Care Center is an amazing 117,000 square feet. It's an outpatient clinic featuring cutting-edge equipment. It's a resource that's second to none in VA.
I know there have been many other accomplishments throughout our network this fiscal year, and I wish I had time to list all of them. But here's news about an important initiative we'll begin soon.
We all know that wars have psychological consequences for those who fight them, and that those consequences can be both long-lasting and far-reaching. Many heroes and their families, however, are still unaware that VISN 4 offers a wide array of programs that provide effective prevention of and treatment for mental health issues.
In the next few months, not only will we add 200 mental health staff to ensure quick access to care, but we will prepare and distribute a public service announcement on our mental health services; we'll work with the news media and use our websites for additional publicity; and we'll invite Veterans with mental health issues to see what our network offers.
For VISN 4, the first half of fiscal year 2012 was outstanding. And I'm convinced the second half will be even better!
Michael E. Moreland, FACHE
VA Healthcare-VISN 4