OKC VA hospi­tal re­ceives pos­i­tive re­view

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY JUSTIN WINGERTER Staff Writer jwingerter@ok­la­homan.com

Six months af­ter a se­ries of fed­eral re­views found deep flaws dat­ing back years at the Ok­la­homa City VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter, the hospi­tal has re­ceived some rare good news from in­spec­tors.

In a 67-page re­port Thurs­day, the VA’s Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral says it found few prob­lems with the hospi­tal dur­ing a week­long re­view of its med­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­cesses this June.

“The OIG noted that fa­cil­ity lead­ers were ac­tively en­gaged with em­ploy­ees and pa­tients and were work­ing to im­prove over­all sat­is­fac­tion,” the re­port states. “Or­ga­ni­za­tional lead­ers sup­port ef­forts re­lated to pa­tient safety, qual­ity care, and other pos­i­tive out­comes.”

The hospi­tal was given a three-star rat­ing last year and the re­port in­di­cates it may keep that rat­ing when 2018 fig­ures are an­nounced. VA hos­pi­tals are given rat­ings from one to five stars.

“We’ve cor­rected a lot of our is­sues,” said Wade Vlosich, the hospi­tal’s di­rec­tor. “Our goal now is just to con­tinue to im­prove the way we pro­vide care and we’ve got a lot of great things com­ing up.”

March re­ports

Dur­ing one week in late March, the VA’s in­spec­tor gen­eral re­leased two re­ports on the Ok­la­homa City VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter. The first found con­struc­tion projects there were $10.8 mil­lion over-bud­get and years be­hind sched­ule. The sec­ond found the cen­ter could not prop­erly ac­count for mil­lions of dol­lars in pay­ments to a med­i­cal school and part-time doc­tors. The Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa later re­paid the VA about $14,000 as a re­sult.

The re­port re­leased Thurs­day was much more pos­i­tive. It did find a prob­lem with some de­layed can­cer di­ag­noses but said that prob­lem has been re­solved.

“Fa­cil­ity man­agers re­ported that the most sig­nif­i­cant trend iden­ti­fied eight pa­tients who had de­layed can­cer di­ag­noses,” the re­port states. “Fa­cil­ity lead­ers took cor­rec­tive ac­tions, in­clud­ing the re­moval of the re­spon­si­ble provider, and con­ducted in­sti­tu­tional dis­clo­sures.”

Vlosich, who took over the hospi­tal in mid-2016 fol­low­ing high-pro­file deaths and rapid staff turnover, was quick to make changes and has gen­er­ally been lauded by politi­cians and in­spec­tors for do­ing so. The hospi­tal re­cently opened a park­ing garage, al­le­vi­at­ing its well­known park­ing prob­lem.

“Now that the park­ing garage is open, I have not got­ten any com­plaints,” said Vlosich, who pre­vi­ously re­ceived as many as eight com­plaints a day about park­ing.

High ad­mis­sions

Ad­mis­sions at the hospi­tal re­main high. Over the past two years, when ad­mis­sions at VA hos­pi­tals were de­clin­ing na­tion­wide, the Ok­la­homa City VA saw a 9.3 per­cent in­crease in the num­ber of pa­tients ad­mit­ted. Some el­derly vet­er­ans are sim­ply left on the hospi­tal’s front steps by fam­ily mem­bers with nowhere else to turn, Vlosich said.

An emer­gency room is be­ing ex­panded and ur­gent care clinic added. Con­struc­tion on an eye clinic con­tin­ues and a geri­atric psy­chi­atric unit will likely be opened this win­ter. A spe­cialty care clinic will open even sooner, likely in late Oc­to­ber or early Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to Vlosich. In the western Ok­la­homa city of Clin­ton, a clinic soon will be built.

In Ok­la­homa City, a cam­pus for home­less vet­er­ans is be­ing con­structed, com­plete with im­me­di­ate needs like show­ers and a food pantry, along with pri­mary care providers, so­cial work­ers and men­tal health man­agers. Con­struc­tion is un­der­way and it could open by the end of the year.

“Over­all,” Vlosich said, “I think we’ve done a re­ally good job when you com­pare where we’ve been and where we’re go­ing.”

[OK­LA­HOMAN AR­CHIVES PHOTO]

The Ok­la­homa City VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter re­ceived an over­all pos­i­tive re­port from the VA’s Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral.

Wade Vlosich

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