Phoenix VA – some good news, what is being done right from the perspective of a patient.

Many issues have been faithfully reported over the past years regarding the quality issues and efficiency of the Phoenix Veterans Affair (VA) hospital.

These past months, I worked with an elderly veteran who was having difficulty with getting into the VA system for hearing aid care. The first major issue was obtaining his DD214 discharge papers for getting registered, because the St. Louis office stated there is currently a backlog of 220,000 requests (for medical as well as military burials), with the department receiving between 3,000-5,000 requests a day. After five months, we overcame this hurdle and took his paperwork to the VA hospital in Gilbert, AZ.

When signing in at the Gilbert VA, the hosts were welcoming and polite. With a short wait of about 15-20 minutes, we were greeted by a friendly registrar who proceeded to go out of his way to clearly relay and perform the registration process, as well as setting up an assessment appointment to avoid future, foreseen issues. The registration employee stated he was excited that David Shulkin had come to the facility, took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, relayed the strategy for the facility stating it was time to go to work, and that he will be returning every 3-4 months to ensure that the strategy is being carried out. We were then escorted by the registrar to a scheduler on the same floor. The facility we were in did not have an open appointment for the next four weeks; and so, he reviewed the schedule at the Phoenix complex and offered a faster appointment in two weeks.

We arrived at the Phoenix Audiology Clinic for the scheduled 1230 appointment by 1220, and we were called back to begin at 1227 - three minutes early. The doctor was polite, efficient, and respectful. She efficiently completed a hearing test and took time reviewing the results, in detail with graphing. She discussed a couple different options of care, asking the veteran his thoughts for aligning with the patient's wishes, then she reviewed next steps with time frames, and offered take home documentation for updating his personal health record in paper or electronic format. She next escorted the veteran to the registration desk to schedule a follow up, giving him her card in case he had any further questions. The appointment was completed in less than an hour. As we were leaving the veteran stated, "That almost seemed too easy."

As we continue to address the many issues facing the VA, let us also assess what is being done well so the efficient processes of departments can be spread to other departments. And then we also give support to the employees who are working to provide great care for the veterans - as the system and administration is streamlined.

Rose Rohloff is a 30+ year healthcare veteran with a background of nursing, business and information systems with success creating industry leading business intelligence solutions for meaningful analysis. Her focus is the removal of information silos within health systems, the expansion of the care continuum to a health maintenance continuum, and a speaker for healthcare consumer awareness. Rose Rohloff can be contacted at or

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