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