Local VA under review by American Legion

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A task force from The American Legion is putting the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center under the microscope and talking about issues from parking to homeless veterans.

As part of its annual "System Worth Saving" review, the group will inspect 44 VAs this year and issue a report of its findings in August that will go to Congress and to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, said Paul A. Morin, a past national commander who is part of the task force in Augusta.

The group inspected the Uptown Division on Wednesday and is scheduled to go to the Downtown Division today.

The group has gotten letters from veterans about the care, both good and bad, and is addressing those with the administration and staff, Morin said. One immediate issue is parking, he said.

"We know there's a parking problem," Morin said. "We commend the staff, the director here, that they put in the valet parking. We see that at a lot of VA medical centers around the country."

But the facility badly needs a $9 million garage to address its parking needs, he said. The group met with administrators but Morin noted that it was with some acting administrators.

"Right now, and we feel it is an issue we're seeing around the country, there's a number of medical centers that the directors are acting, and they haven't put in a permanent (administrator), as you've got here," he said. "And it's been over four months."

Charlie Norwood VA Director Rebecca Wiley was temporarily assigned in December to the VA's Southeast Network office to work on a special project, and Patricia Pittman from the VA in Columbia, was assigned as acting director. Those assignments have been extended but spokeswoman Janice Kennedy said she was not sure for how long.

When that happens you can lose "continuity," Morin said.

The group was impressed by the Active Duty Rehabilitation Unit at the Charlie Norwood VA, which Morin said is a unique cooperation between the military and the VA.

In 2006, in a meeting with President George W. Bush, Morin said he asked for a better transition between the two.

"Our concern then was to have a medical record that would transfer electronically from your active military (duty) to the VA," he said. "We still haven't (gotten it). President Obama now has it as a priority."

The Augusta arrangement "shows you things can happen," Morin said. "Our primary concern and our only primary concern is the well-being of the active-duty military and the veterans who have served this country."

The group also praised the homeless veteran program in Augusta as comprehensive.

"When we talk about a homeless individual, it's not just that person not having a place to lay his head every evening, it's the diagnosis from medical and mental health to a place to sleep to a future," Morin said. "That's what they're offering here. You have to have all of that in place. Otherwise, you're not succeeding in bringing that veteran back to an asset to his community."

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Riverman1
93233
Points
Riverman1 04/21/11 - 03:54 am
0
0
Eisenhower Army Medical

Eisenhower Army Medical Center is to be thanked for taking VA patients requiring certain types of special care. They represent coordination of DOD and the VA at it's best.

dichotomy
37344
Points
dichotomy 04/21/11 - 08:33 am
0
0
The valet parking at the

The valet parking at the downtown VA actually made the parking situation worse due to the number of spaces they blocked off for that service. Admittedly, some people love the valet parking but there are many who do not like to turn their car over to some stranger. Most of the time there are lots of empty spaces in the "reserved for valet parking" section while there is a constant stream of cars circling the parking lot for 20 minutes or more looking for a parking space. A parking deck would be a good addition along with a competent director if they can find one.

doglover123
36
Points
doglover123 04/21/11 - 09:30 am
0
0
I agree with you, Dichotomy.

I agree with you, Dichotomy. I was driving by there yesterday and saw just what you described. I've wondered for years why they don't just "go up" with the parking lot. Since the early 80's, I've spent countless hours circling that lot.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 04/21/11 - 11:02 am
0
0
All of the issues mentioned

All of the issues mentioned in the article above should have been addressed years ago. Hopefully they will appoint a new director that will have the interest of the veteran at heart. As an employee at the VA, now retired, I tried to bring up issues, but no one would listen. Each time I did they wanted to fire me. Do not expect to get any information from Janice Kennedy, as she is part of the old guard at the VA. Our veterans and active duty soldiers should receive the best possible care available. I am also a veteran and I can see the hardships that they endure trying to get care at the VA. Adequate parking has always been an issue at the downtown division of the VA. The valet service takes up additional space and should be replaced with a parking deck. I know that MCG wanted to go into a partnership of some kind years ago to build a parking deck, but this idea was not approved by the director at the time. I would not leave my car with the valet service either. I had my car damaged by a valet service at a hospital in Atlanta. Never again will I turn my car over to a valet service.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 04/21/11 - 01:26 pm
0
0
I just got out of the

I just got out of the downtown VA after an extended illness; they are currently remodeling the floors an I was told a new parking garage was going to be built in the very near future. I was also told that the monies for this came in under the Bush Administration and not the present one. Incidently, I get the BEST healthcare in the world at the VA. Most of the people who complain are spoiled, selfish vets who are upset for not getting their own way. Sure, there are issues up the ladder, but I have never seen a VA doctor who did not strive for the best healthcare for his or her patient.

Lovelabs
3929
Points
Lovelabs 04/21/11 - 03:19 pm
0
0
scgator......Regarding your

scgator......Regarding your 2:26, regardless of your views, there is no such thing as a "spoiled, selfish vet."

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 04/21/11 - 05:54 pm
0
0
Thank you lovelabs. Yes, we

Thank you lovelabs. Yes, we do have good physicians and nursing staff at the VA as the other veteran mentioned. It is management that screws it all up for the veterans. I am a veteran and I was an employee at the VA for almost 20 years. It seems that each director that comes into the VA at Augusta wants to get their name in lights, but end up doing it the wrong way. It also seems like when we get a good physician in an area, management finds fault with them and tries to run them off. Take care of the veterans and to heck with trying to be a for profit hospital like the other community hospitals in the area. The VA was established to take care of veterans and not to make a profit.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 04/21/11 - 06:01 pm
0
0
It seems that the nurses had

It seems that the nurses had an impact when they went to the picket line. More union employees should do the same....Rebecca is out,at least for the present.

hb1960
0
Points
hb1960 04/21/11 - 06:31 pm
0
0
We have just found out that

We have just found out that all of the request & care my husband was to be getting was ignored & he has not gotten health care. The inpatient advocate seen this. The Deputy Chief told me when he was ask why they haven't cared for my husband & this is his quote, "him & a team of physicians look at patient records & what is wrong & if they see that it would cost the government & VA too much money then they do not help." My husband was in VA 1 wk ago for 4 days with a bad gallbladder & they would not take it out, they had all the test. My husband is a vietnam vet & has most of the agent orange. But yet they have ignored him, put his records between other papers. I have the proof of what I am saying, they even messed my father up years ago.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 04/21/11 - 08:27 pm
0
0
I rest my case. Again to get

I rest my case. Again to get hired into management at the VA it is not what you know but who you know.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 04/22/11 - 01:12 pm
0
0
Check and see how many

Check and see how many employess at the VA are related to other family members that work in management or other high paying positions. Starting in the personnel office. Sisters of sisters,daughters of employees,etc.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 04/21/11 - 08:34 pm
0
0
hb1960 write your

hb1960 write your Congressman. That is the only way to get any action taken and then it is not a sure thing. They usually stick with management at the VA.

SpikeM
0
Points
SpikeM 04/22/11 - 11:22 am
0
0
dvdbiggs - You obviously have

dvdbiggs - You obviously have an ax to grind. Your shot at Janice Kennedy was way out of line. Also, if you're going to make charges of nepotism; put up or shut up. My suggestion to you is to grow up and get over it. Time to move on brother. Life is too short to be so angry.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 04/22/11 - 02:17 pm
0
0
SpikeM....I worked with the

SpikeM....I worked with the people mentioned and I know their politics. I know of many people that worked at the VA who were related also. Facts are facts. My facts are correct and maybe you should go work at the VA, if you are not a family member of an employee, and check out the REAL story. I have been there done that. It would not surpirse me if they make Janice the next hospital administrator as she is a part of the “Old Guard". Sorry if I hit a nerve Spike. I do not have an ax to grind but I feel the veterans should receive the best treatment available. I speak as a Veteran Spike and from first hand knowledge working at the VA in Augusta. When the nurses have to picket to get better care for our veterans that is a shame. Spike read the Semiannual Report to Congress October 1, 2008 — March 31, 2009. I rest my case. Report No. 08-01596-45 December 17, 2008
VA Office of Inspector General
Washington, DC 20420

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