Veteran Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System Message to Veterans
News Release from Veteran Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System, Nov 9, 2018
On this Veterans Day, we honor the contributions and sacrifices of the brave men and women who have served this great nation, by expressing our sincerest thanks and appreciation for their selfless service. We further express our gratitude for their sacrifices by ensuring that our Veterans, their families and their caregivers, have a POSITIVE experience each time they interact with VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS). We are guided by our core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence, and these values help to define our customer service culture.
Quality of Care
VAPIHCS is committed to continuously improving the quality of care provided to America’s Heroes. Since 2017, VAPIHCS has shown improvements in quality of care as measured by the national quality metric called Strategic Analytics Improvement and Learning, “SAIL.” We outperform VA nationally in diabetic retinal screening; testing diabetics for kidney disease; depression screening; treatment for acute depression (medication therapy); breast cancer screening; cervical cancer screening; pneumococcal immunization; screening and referral for alcohol misuse; offering medications, referral and counseling for tobacco use; and suicide risk evaluation in Veterans who screen positive for PTSD.
Our delivery of mental health care has also improved. We are one of only 11 sites across the nation that introduced Open Access for Care, a model where time is reserved in each clinician’s schedule to allow for same day appointments, consults, medication adjustment, crisis phone call follow-up and other scheduling needs. We are recognized as a national leader in this, and we have been asked to create an Implementation Guide to Mental Health Open Access which will benefit VA nationwide.
The commitment to customer service excellence is our number one priority, which is reflected in the newly launched VA.gov website. I am pleased to share with you that VA launched a new, customer-focused VA.gov this week. Thanks to the hard work of teams across the VA, the redesigned VA.gov will make it easier for Veterans, their families and caregivers to find the services and tools they need much faster. This includes scheduling an appointment, filing a claim and applying for VA health care. Veterans told VA that it was confusing to be bounced through multiple VA websites as they searched for what they needed. The new VA.gov consolidates a few of these main websites and provides direct access to all tools. While users might be redirected from VA.gov to other sites for some transactions in the short-term, the aim is to keep consolidating those sites into one site that Veterans know and trust – VA.gov.
Improving the Veterans experience through VA Mission Act
The Act will fundamentally transform elements of VA’s health care system, to fulfill the commitment to provide Veterans with more choice in their health care providers and to prevent a funding shortfall in the current Veterans Choice Program. The Act will consolidate VA’s community care programs into a new Veterans Community Care Program. This new program will strengthen VA by merging the Department’s community care programs, including the Choice Program, into one system that is easier to navigate for Veterans, VA employees and community partners. The Mission Act also expands our family caregivers program to provide much-needed assistance to the people caring for our Veterans day in and day out.
Modernizing Services & increasing access by using Telehealth Technologies
Telehealth has been instrumental in providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time for our Veterans. We want Veterans to choose VA to receive their care. Our Telemedicine hubs ensure continuity of services for Veterans throughout all our beautiful Hawaiian Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. The Tele-Primary Care team has increased access and timeliness of service for Veterans by partnering with the Telephone Advice Nurses to offer same day access to care through Video on Demand to patients’ homes. Through same day services of Tele-Primary Care Mental Health Integration (PCMHI), Veterans receive timeliness of service for their mental health needs. We are also celebrating 15 years of MyHealtheVet - empowering Veterans to manage their health through the online portal.
Women Veterans are the fastest growing group within the Veteran population. Our Women Veterans Program providers are specially trained to address women issues. Serving more than 3,300 women Veterans, we strive to deliver the highest quality comprehensive health care by our dedicated women health providers, nurses and support staff. Specialty gynecology and our clinical psychologist are now located within our clinic setting, and we offer extended hours every other Saturday morning. We have monthly outreach events recognizing women serving, or having served, our military. One such event is the upcoming “A Day for Me,” at the Ke’ehi Lagoon Memorial Park on November 18. And the theme is: “You Served, You Deserve the Best Care Anywhere,” and we thank you for your service.
Training and Research
We oversee more than 450 trainees who are Hawaii’s future health care workforce. VAPIHCS has an affiliation with the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine to provide education and research to medical students. Investing in them is an investment for Hawaii and our Veterans! VAPIHCS is now supporting the Million Veteran Project (MVP), a national research project. It is the world’s largest genomic database linked to a health care system through which VA will learn more about how genes affect health to improve health care for Veterans. To date we have enrolled more than 1,400 Veterans here in Hawaii and 703K nationally.
According to the results of the 2018 Point in Time count, numbers of individuals who self-identified as homeless Veterans declined across the Pacific Islands. Numbers decreased by 9.4% on Oahu, 24.7% on the Neighbor Islands, and 46.7% on Guam. These are outstanding results considering the high cost of housing in our area. We have an innovative and passionate VA homeless staff which works closely with our community partners.
Mahalo Nui Loa!
I want to thank our Veterans for their service. More than 1,000 employees—many of them Veterans themselves, have a common goal and mission to provide full spectrum comprehensive patient-and family-centered care to our Veterans. We also partner with Department of Defense, civic leaders and community members in a variety of ways to ensure that Veterans receive the care and services they need and deserve. The men and women who served this country paid the price for the freedom and liberty that we all enjoy. It is my privilege to serve as the Director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, and I want to thank the staff for their hard work in providing our Veterans with quality, safe and compassionate health care. It’s an honor and a duty to do so, and the least we can do to demonstrate our gratitude for a debt we can never otherwise repay.
One Team, One Ohana!
Jennifer S. Gutowski, MHA, FACHE
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
Reality: Honolulu VA Medical Center Among Worst 30% -- again