Vets need a better medical screening tool!
Word of mouth is a more common way for Vets to compare their local Veteran Affairs medical facilities with civilian facilities. But is civilian care always better? Is there a better way to compare? The Veterans Affairs (VA) had their own rating system in the past, but it proved to be irrelevant and not on the same grading system as civilian medical facilities. An article from USA Today, aptly titled “VA hospital patient experience star ratings let veterans compare care” caught my attention. Donovan Slack, the author, relates how one Vet’s personal experience coincides with one of the worse rated VA facilities in the country and what the VA is attempting to do about it. The Vet’s story is unfortunately all to common experience that so many Vets vocalize about. The article highlights the lack of professionalism and care that Vets are receiving at the worst rated VA facility in Memphis, TN but it doesn’t mean all other VA facilities are just as bad.
Veteran care has improved for the better now that Vets have access to receive care through civilian medical facilities. But Vets beware, civilian medical facilities are not always going to be better. That is why Vets should check out, Care Compare. Slack (2021) reports that this is a federal website which allows veterans to compare patient perceptions of care at VA and non-VA hospitals based on industry-standard star ratings.
Not all Veteran Affairs facilities are terrible
It is about time that the Veteran Affairs needs to be rated along with other civilian medical facilities in the area. A Vet should know the quality of care that they will receive, whether or not VA. Regardless of inpatient or outpatient setting, quality of care render at any medical facility should always be top priority. Interesting enough, the VA is not as terrible as some Vets make it out to be. Slack (2021) reports that half of VA hospitals with ratings on the site – 60 out of 121 – earned at least four out of five stars, a USA TODAY review found. VA facilities with too few patients or data, and those that don’t provide inpatient care, were not included. Nationally, roughly 40% of the nation’s 3,462 hospitals that were rated achieved that distinction in 2019, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data. Only 3% – 90 hospitals – got one out of five stars.
Not bad VA. But there is always room for improvement.
So what should a Vet do?
Vets, don’t toss those Veteran Affairs survey letters you get in the mail in the trash. We need to be more vocal in reporting both the bad and the good in the care we receive. I understand that the common consensus with many Vets is that they feel it’s a waste of time and no change will occur. How will change occur if we don’t become more vocal in our care and report it often? Accountability, folks, we know this. We must hold the VA accountable for our care and know how they stack up with other medical facilities. Transparency in care is vital. All Vets should take an interest in this topic, regardless if they receive medical care at the VA or not. We served our country, and we are entitled to proper care!
Also, use the Patient Advocacy Program, which is for all veterans and their families who receive care at VA medical facilities and wish to report any issues about care. Follow the instructions below to find out how to reach your local Patient Advocacy representative:
- Click the link, https://www.va.gov/health/vamc/, find and select your state’s VA Medical Center.
- Upon arriving at the website, on the right-hand column, click “CONTACT US”.
- Below the drop-down menu, select ” PHONE DIRECTORY” then search for Patient Advocates.
Voice your opinion! Don’t just complain on the sidelines. Take an active stance. Be active with veteran groups, local VA medical facilities, government agencies, etc.