Memphis VA again ranks among worst in country

Memphis VA again ranks among worst in country
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center once again received bad ratings.

The hospital remained on the list of the worst VA facilities in the county, one of only five VA facilities receiving the lowest ranking for the past three years.

In a new VA release, Memphis received just one out of five stars, joining facilities in Atlanta, El Paso, Montgomery, Phoenix and others.

Memphis is, however, trending upward in their rankings, making some improvement.

In June, a lengthy report from the inspector general detailed a pattern of repeated issues between October 2015 and September 2017.

This summer Dr. David Dunning, the hospital’s new medical director spoke with WMC5 about the improvements he’d made during acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke’s visit.

“It’s not just the physical changes that you see in the organization,” said Dr. David Dunning in June. “You can feel the difference in the Memphis VA from what it was a year ago.”

On Thursday in response to the hospital rating Dr. Dunning said in a statement, "Memphis is among the fastest improving medical centers in all of VHA."

He went on to say some of the hospital’s biggest strides were in mental health, hospital complications and sepsis recognition..Four months later veterans continue to see the difference.

“I have had good and bad experiences here, you know,” said Richard Jennings, Marines and Army National Guard veteran. “Ratings wise and in the grand scheme of things, yeah this facility bottomed out. So all they can do is improve.”

Dr. Dunning and hospital staff promise to keep making those changes.

In light of the news, Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen said he is asking the VA secretary to intervene immediately to ensure improvements are made. He issued the following statement:

“Memphis veterans deserve better than this. My office continues to receive complaints about the poor performance of our VA facility and today’s report indicates it is still mired at the bottom of the national rankings. It is unconscionable that the rate of death is so high. I will continue monitoring this situation closely with Secretary Wilkie and Director Dunning to make sure everything possible is being done to ensure veterans receive high quality care at the Memphis VA.”
Steve Cohen

Click here to read the full report.

The full release is as follows:

End of fiscal year hospital Star rating shows large improvement in overall quality of services at Memphis VA Medical Center

Memphis, Tennessee — Today, as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) efforts to remain transparent and hold VA facilities accountable, VA released its end of fiscal year 2018 (FY2018) hospital Star ratings, which evaluate and benchmark quality of care delivery at VA medical centers (VAMCs) across the nation.

The Memphis VA Medical Center made positive strides in the benchmarks and strives to continue progress. While the medical center’s Star rating remains the same, there are significant improvements in overall quality, with the largest gains seen in areas where medical center-wide improvement initiatives were taken, such as mortality, length of stay and avoidable hospital complications.

“While there are 11 VA medical centers with a 1-star ranking based on SAIL methodology, the Memphis VA is among the fastest improving medical centers in all of VHA,” said David K. Dunning, Medical Center Director. “Some of our biggest strides were in the areas of mental health, including suicide prevention, hospital complications and sepsis recognition,” stated Dunning. “Our staff are fully engaged in improving our Veterans’ experience and our hospital is far safer in every aspect than we were one, two or three years ago,” added Dunning.

The Star rating designation is designed to help VA identify best practices of its top performing hospitals and share them across VA’s health care system to achieve system-wide improvements.

Compared with data from the same period a year ago, the release of VA’s Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) report shows 66 percent of VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) have improved in overall quality in the third quarter — with the largest gains seen in areas where there were VA-wide improvement initiatives, such as mortality, length of stay and avoidable adverse events. Six VAMCs had a decrease in quality, and improvement activities are underway at each of these facilities.

Additionally, of the medical centers placed under the Strategic Action for Transformation program (StAT), an initiative that monitors high-risk medical centers and mobilizes resources to assist them, eight are no longer considered high risk and 80 percent (12 medical centers) show measurable improvements since being placed under StAT in January 2018.

“There’s no doubt that there’s still plenty of work to do, but I’m proud of our employees, who work tirelessly to move VA in the right direction for Veterans and taxpayers,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

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