Chicagoland/O'Hare Chapter 142

                             Air Force Association


Some VA Hospitals Show Improvement

Improvements at the nation's veterans hospitals over the past year are allowing officials to remove a handful of the poorest-performing centers from a list of high-risk facilities, according to an assessment to be released this week by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Five hospitals had been part of a program that floods poorly performing facilities with expertise and resources, and the improvements are seen by VA officials and doctors as a measure of success.  Ten other high-risk hospitals continue to languish among the lowest-ranked facilities and will remain the target of improvement efforts, according to officials.

Of 146 VA medical centers nationwide, 103 reported improvements in service quality and seven suffered declines.  Quality is measured according to death rates, complications, patient satisfaction, overall  efficiency and physician capacity under a system called  Strategic Analytics for Improvemen, and Learning, or SAIL.

While VA officials consider the improvements a step in the right direction, they said the assessments don't always foreshadow quality improvements or declines.

 "You can look around the system and you can find failures that weren't necessarily predicted by SAIL," said Richard Stone, the top VA health care official.

Hospital ratings have been showing steady improvement since the first public release of the data in 2015.

Dr. Stone said greater transparency had fueled improvements around the VA, the nation's largest medical system.  "When you make these things public, you get pressure, you get scrutiny, you get oversight," he said. 

VA medical centers are rated on a scale of one to five stars.  Of the 146 medical centers, 19 had five-star ratings and 15 were given one-star ratings.  Earlier this year, VA officials began transferring personnel and resources from some of the healthier centers to the high-risk centers.

As a result, five of the 15 high-risk centers, located in Dublin GA; Harlington, TX; Nashville, TN; Roseburg, OR; and Denver, CO improved, officials said, rising out of the high-risk category.  The latest star have yet to be released.

Centers in Hampton,  VA; Washington, DC; Big Springs, TX; Jackson, Miss;  Loma Linda, CA; Memphis, TN; Murfreesboro, TN; Phoenix, AZ; Walla Walla, WA; remain in the high-risk catagory.