VA announces aggressive new approach for low-performing medical centers


    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced steps that it is taking as part of an aggressive new approach to produce rapid improvements at VA’s low-performing medical facilities nationwide.
    The VA defines its low-performing facilities as those medical centers that receive the lowest score in its SAIL star rating system, or a one-star rating out of five.
    The VA currently has 15 such one-star facilities: Hampton (Virginia); Harlingen (Texas); Roseburg (Oregon); Washington (D.C.); Big Spring (Texas); Denver (Colorado); Dublin (Georgia); El Paso (Texas); Jackson, (Mississippi); Loma Linda (California); Memphis (Tennessee); Murfreesboro (Tennessee); Nashville (Tennessee); Phoenix (Arizona); and Walla Walla (Washington).
    The steps the VA is taking to produce rapid improvements at its low-performing facilities include:
    1. Central, national accountable leadership — The VA has designated Dr. Peter Almenoff, director of the VA’s Office of Reporting, Analytics, Performance, Improvement and Deployment (RAPID) Healthcare Improvement Center, to oversee improvement at each of the centers. Almenoff reports directly to Dr. Carolyn Clancy, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration.
    2. Comprehensive analysis and identification of improvement targets — The VA is employing a new initiative, known as Strategic Action Transformation, that uses a rigorous and formal approach based on clinical performance indicators to identify vulnerabilities in each low-performing facility and set specific targets for improvement.
    3. Provision of national resources for improvement — The VA’s RAPID team of experts will use sophisticated statistical tools to track the progress of improvement against these targets and, where warranted, will dispatch a team of expert improvement coaches quickly to the medical centers to assist them in meeting the goals.
    4. Accountability for results — The VA’s central office will review each of the facilities quarterly and, if the facilities fail to make rapid substantial progress in their improvement plan, VA leadership will take prompt action, including changing the leadership of the medical center.
    “President Trump has made it clear that our veterans deserve only the best when it comes to their health care and that’s why we are focusing on improving our lowest performing facilities nationwide,” said VA Secretary David Shulkin. “We will employ tight timelines for facilities to demonstrate improvement, and if low performance persists, we will make swift changes — including replacing facility leaders — until we achieve the rapid improvements that veterans and taxpayers expect from VA.”
    Services available for local veterans
    Pine Ridge Extended Care Center is VA-certified, which means there are services available for our local veterans. These services have eligibility requirements and specific programs. For more information, please contact this office or Pine Ridge.
    For more information
    The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims.
    This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
    For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.
    The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
    The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and email is The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
    Bring a DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.
    Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
    Veterans’ groups
    The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
    • American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
    • American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
    • Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.
    • Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Kevin Kelly at (505) 699-0824.
    • Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
    Important numbers
    • 799-VETS,
    • Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
    • Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
    • VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.
    • VAMC Albuquerque, N.M., emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.
    • The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.