Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Northport NY VA Medical Center in a nutshell!

Northport NY VA Medical Center in a nutshell!

Short, sweet, & to the point! Ms. McGaughey says what the folks at the top refuse to admit. There are too many “executives” flapping their gums and spewing oral diarrhea while Veterans die in the “hurry up & wait” culture of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In my case, the VA Medical Center I use - VAMC Northport, NY - is rotting and falling down around us, literally. The management dosen’t seem to have the basic intelligence to write formal requests for Capital improvements, Facility maintenance, basic infrastructure maintenance, upkeep of Medical Department staffing levels,  adequate Hospital Services stocking and utilization levels, and the proper bidding protocols for outside Contractors. Our little backwater VAMC ranks at the bottom of the list when it comes to formal requests for operating and maintenance budget dollars. There are some 1,500 VA Facilities vying for a piece of a $163 billion dollar VA National budget. That puts Northport in the class of a third world Country when it comes to taking care of 180,000 local Veterans. VAMC Northport would rather spend Veteran health care dollars on traffic STOP signs with solar powered LED blinking red bulbs around the perimeter of the signs (est. min. price = $2,500.00 ea., installation extra). I also need to mention the two parking lot areas that have been roofed with solar arrays that don’t work and aren’t hooked up to the grid (est. min. price = $3,000,000.00 per parking lot). And, how about the $26,000,000.00 (min. est. price) to rent portable A/C units for the main Hospital building when the condenser units on the roof crapped out last Spring.        

Note Bene: These projects and costs were all incurred through “no-bid” contracts, because the management claims there are no willing and/or able local Contractors to do these jobs, they all come out of our Veterans Health Care.
All this, plus what Ms. McGaughey reports, has led to a dwindling Patient registration at the VAMC Northport over recent years; 34k registered down to 24k registered, and falling. This is not because the Veteran population is dying off, as the management would have you believe. It is because of the gross, possibly criminal, management of those at the top who are obviously not qualifies to be there.
The only item Ms. McGaughey needs to revisit is the method of billing Medicare used by the VA Health system (end of article). As an example, I have private insurance that gets billed first for all medical items, then they bill my Medicare for the remainder. I am not an exception to the norm; I am in the norm. So, effectively, the VA doesn’t actually “pay” for my health care at all. What is it, exactly, that the $163 billion dollar budget goes toward; fraud, waste, corruption, management bonuses, etc.?

Betsy McCaughey: Trump's Urgent Job — Clean Up the VA   BETSY MCCAUGHEY   12/14/2016Last week, Veterans Affairs got caught covering up the quality ratings of its 146 medical centers.VA Secretary Robert McDonald insists. "No VA medical facility is bad or failing." Really? Not even a hospital that earns only one star out of five?McDonald denies he's hiding anything. But he and other VA brass have plenty to hide.In 2014, the nation was horrified to learn that vets were dying while waiting for medical appointments, and VA staff were concealing wait times. Now new patients are waiting even longer. Recently, a vet with heart troubles died while waiting for a cardiology appointment at the Washington, D.C., VA. Investigators concluded he would likely have survived had he been seen.Meanwhile Democratic senators are still blocking a bill to hold VA executives accountable for these deadly failures. What's wrong with firing liars and incompetents? Democrats would rather side with the public service unions that fill their campaign coffers and turn out the vote.Even so, the VA can be fixed. Doing right by vets was a core promise made by President-elect Donald Trump. His yet to be named VA secretary has opportunities to make improvements quickly, circumventing VA obstructionists and their Democratic enablers.When the VA's secret five-star rating system was exposed last week in USA Today, McDonald whined the news might "dissuade veterans from coming to VA for care." You bet. Who would entrust their life to a one-star hospital?The VA hospitals in New York and New Jersey get mostly three or four stars, but Montrose, New York, gets five stars. Other top hospitals include Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis and West Haven, Connecticut.The Phoenix VA, where vets died while their names languished on wait lists, was rated one star in 2014 and is still one star. No progress there, but the Obama administration is fighting to enable its director, Sharon Helman, to keep her job.In response to the Phoenix scandal, Congress requires the VA to participate in a rating website called Hospital Compare, which also posts data on civilian hospitals. So vets could decide where to go.But the VA is hiding its failures by refusing to post the information. VA hospitals are no longer on Hospital Compare, so vets have to fly blind.On the other hand, the data we do have is not a pretty picture. Longer wait times for patients needing primary care, specialty care, and mental health care are hardly evidence of the "irrefutable progress" McDonald tries to brag about.It's not a money problem. Congress appropriated a record $163 billion to the VA in 2016, more than the department requested.The real problem is a lack of discipline at all levels. Consider the alarming increase in central line infections — a key indicator of hospital quality. These lethal infections are totally preventable, if medical staff rigorously follow protocols. Some civilian hospitals have reduced them to zero. The VA has no excuse.Whomever Trump appoints as VA secretary will face a hostile and legally entrenched bureaucracy determined to protect its own cushy jobs, instead of serving vets.Even so, Trump's VA secretary can succeed. Here's one quick fix that could save many lives and cost taxpayers almost nothing. An amazing 47% of VA users are 65 or older and already on Medicare. They need bypass surgery, and hip and knee replacements, like other seniors. Often they use the VA to avoid Medicare's out of pocket expenses. Their average household income is $36,000. Enabling them to use Medicare without copays could cut VA waiting lists by nearly half.That will make room for younger vets, who need specialized war-related care, where the VA excels. Fully 58% require mental health treatment for combat trauma and suicide risk, and 62% have muscular and skeletal injuries.Trump's new secretary can't delay. Forget about more commissions or reports. Action is needed now. Thousands of vets' lives depend on it.

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