We attended a hospital visit at the Atlanta VAMC on Wednesday:
Issues discussed are as follows:
-Projected dates for new clinic openings:
Pike County Clinic—January 2022
Covington (Newton) Clinic- January 2020 (Furniture delivery December 2019)
South Fulton Mental Health- February 2020
Pickens County Clinic (Jasper)- February 2020
South Cobb Mental Health- January 2020 (furniture delivery December 2019)
West Cobb/Austell Clinic- March 2020
Fulton Eye Clinic- March 2020
Fulton C&P Telehealth Clinic- March 2020
Cobb Multi-Specialty Clinic—New Contract Awarded January/February 2020—projected opening in 2022.
-The VA spoke about using VA fact sheets to spread the correct information: VBA Fact Sheets- https://benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets.asp ; Community care fact sheets- https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/pubs/factsheets.asp ; Mental health- https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/transitioning-service/articles.asp ; Suicide prevention- https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/data.asp ; VA Mission Act- https://www.missionact.va.gov/ ; Community care- https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/docs/pubfiles/factsheets/VA-FS_CC-Eligibility.pdf
-Phone issues continue to plague the Atlanta VAMC. The system is very old and is now on the priority list to be replaced according to the VA Central Office. Until then please use 404-329-2222 or 404-728-7690 to contact the hospital.
-The VAMC also admits that some of the employee have failed to use the phone equipment correctly resulting in back connections or no connections at all. The VA Central Office call team will be coming down to advise on this issue.
-VA appointments—Medical Support Assistants are forbidden from scheduling appointments prior to speaking with the veteran first. So if this has happened to you in the last 3 months please report it so they can correct it.
-Pharmacy labels smearing—Dr. Davis is going to address this with the pharmacy. He thinks it maybe a printer issue (not heating up enough)—he is going to suggest they put clear tape over the labels in the mean time to solve the smearing and fading problem. He also said that the pharmacy uses the script talk system to assist our blind veterans.
-The VA wanted to remind everyone to get their FLU shots this year. It will ensure that you will be protected–even if you do happen to get the flu it will not be anywhere near as severe.
-The Atlanta VAMC admits that there are issues with the Veterans Experience Office and senior leadership is working hard to change the negative culture that plagued the VAMC for years. They are making progress, but it will take time to make drastic changes in the culture.
-There have been a lot of personnel changes at the hospital (firings, mandatory retirements, reassignments etc). The hospital executive staff is working diligently on removing those responsible for negative behavior and sub-standard care. They are hoping that by removing obstacles to change within the facility will contribute to better patient care and overall service.
-The VA stated that due to veteran population growing so quickly, there is a critical shortage of Primary Care Doctors in the Atlanta VAMC area of responsibility to fill a lot of the new clinics. They specifically spoke about the shortages at the Rome clinic. Finding providers has been a challenge since the VA is not the most competitive when it comes to salary. They asked that if you know any doctors and nurses who are willing to come to the VA to please have them contact Dr. Davis his email email@example.com
-Dr. Davis stated that HR is expediting the hiring process for doctors and nurses.
-The Department Commander requested information about homeless veteran issues in Georgia and specifically in the Atlanta area and what was being done about it. They stated that according to the HUD survey conducted in January 2019, there are 345 homeless veterans in the Atlanta Area which is a 45% decrease since 2010.
-Ms. April Edwards, VA Homeless Coordinator provided information on the homeless issues. She briefed CRRC at Fort McPherson https://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/crrc.asp They stated that the VA was no longer going to “enable” homelessness by providing sleeping bags and other items during outreach, they want to transition them off the street. She stated that veterans must want to get off the street in order for it to work and that reducing homelessness is a partnership with multiple organizations – It takes a village. She also mentioned that some homeless veterans in rural areas don’t want to go to Fort McPherson. HUD is pushing for city and county governments to assist with homelessness in there areas. They also mentioned Operation Reveille- https://www.va.gov/homeless/events.asp
Mark D. Demers, MBA, CM
Veteran Appeals Officer/
American Legion Department Service Officer
Georgia Department of Veterans Service
1700 Clairmont Road
Decatur, Georgia 30033
American Legion- Department of Georgia: https://georgialegion.org/
Service Officer Tool Kit- https://georgialegion.org/service-officer-training/
American Legion (National): https://www.legion.org/