The dedicated employees who work at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center have the privilege of providing high-quality, safe, effective health care to the men and women who have served this nation.
In fact, 38 percent of the staff are veterans, including me. We care deeply about our veterans, and that care is a responsibility we take very seriously.
In August 2012, our medical center reported that a number of veterans had not had their gastroenterology consultations provided to them in a timely manner, which resulted in delays in care. This was unacceptable, and did not meet our high standards, so we took immediate steps to increase our internal capacity to perform GI endoscopy procedures.
Personnel were realigned and hired, and improvements were made to increase staff support and patient communication. We also redesigned our consult and appointment processes, re-engineered our endoscopy suite and offered weekend and holiday clinics.
Finally, we took advantage of the many private providers and hospitals in our community to provide care as quickly as possible to all patients requiring GI procedures.
As a result of these actions, the GI consult delays were resolved, and veterans now receive these procedures in a timely manner.
All of us at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center are deeply saddened by the loss of any veteran under our care, and we offer our sincerest condolences to veterans who have been harmed and to those families who have lost a loved one. Once we discovered these issues, we reached out to the affected veterans and family members to fully disclose how we did not provide the care they should expect.
One adverse outcome is one too many, and we owe it to these veterans and families to ensure that this does not happen again. That is our pledge to them and to the veteran community we serve.
We will learn from this painful lesson and strive to become a better and more responsive health-care organization.
(The writer is director of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.)