The Edmond Sun

Features

June 10, 2014

Local VA staff responds to audit

OKC director: ‘We have nothing to hide’

OKLA. CITY — “We have nothing to hide,” Oklahoma City VA Medical Center Director Daniel Marsh told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Earlier this year, after allegations were reported to the VA office of inspector general’s hotline, the office affirmed that about 1,700 patients at the Phoenix VA hospital were not put on any existing wait list and faced treatment delays of up to 115 days.

In late April, the Office of Inspector General assembled a multi-disciplinary team to address numerous allegations at Phoenix and other VA medical facilities, acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin said during Monday’s congressional hearing. Due to the number of issues, the OIG is conducting a comprehensive review requiring an in-depth examination of records and personnel.

Since the Phoenix VA story broke, the OIG received allegations of similar issues regarding manipulated wait times at other Veteran Health Administration medical facilities through various channels, Griffin said.

In response, the OIG has opened reviews at other Veteran Health Administration medical facilities to determine whether scheduling practices were in use that did not comply with scheduling policies and procedures, Griffin said.

Tuesday’s press conference in Oklahoma City occurred a day after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released results from a nationwide access audit, which found that new patients at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center waited an average of 44 days for primary care.

Marsh told reporters scheduling audits here have revealed no findings.

“Our mission is very simple,” Marsh said. “We honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and their well-being. That’s our only mission.”

Marsh said the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center serves the western two thirds of Oklahoma and two counties in north Texas where the Wichita Falls clinic is based. It receives referrals from Muskogee, Fayetteville, Ark., and other parts of the VA occasionally.  

The local VA has an annex clinic on North May Avenue and is looking to expand into the south part of Oklahoma City, where the agency is working with property owners to acquire necessary property, Marsh said. The local VA has eight community-based outpatient clinics, two veterans centers — one in Oklahoma City and one in Lawton.

“Any veteran has the ability to go anywhere in the United States and get care,” Marsh said. “Our electronic health record gives everybody access to their health record regardless of where they are so that we can ensure the highest quality of care and continuity of care as well.”

Marsh said evidence as to the quality of care in Oklahoma City includes recent growth. In fiscal year 2014, leaders are expecting to see well over 58,000 unique veterans, patients seen at least 15 times in a given year, Marsh said.

The trend in health care across the nation is to minimize in-patient stays, Marsh said. Oklahoma City has been working to improve disease prevention and management and keeping patients out of the hospital when it’s appropriate, Marsh said.

Marsh said the local VA medical center is managing as many patients as possible in an ambulatory care setting, in a home-based primary care setting and in some cases in a tele-health setting minimizing patient travel time.

The Oklahoma City VA Medical Center offers services ranging from primary care to neurosurgery. Its total bed capacity is 192. Overall, the facility enrolls about 20-50 veterans on a daily basis. Staff are constantly rescheduling visits. And outpatient visits continue to rise.

Oklahoma City VA Medical Center Chief of Staff Mark Huycke said the facility strives to provide personalized, proactive patient-driven health care. Huycke said the VA is undergoing changes toward a model reducing the number of face-to-face visits.

Marsh said challenges include a recent federal pay freeze and competing with private sector salaries.

Nationwide on May 15 the Veterans Health Administration had more than 6 million appointments scheduled across the system. About 57,436 veterans were waiting to be scheduled for care. Another 63,869 who had enrolled in the system during the past 10 years had not been seen for an appointment. The VA was working to contact these veterans.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121 ext. 108

1
Text Only
Features
  • NAMI classes begin in September

    NAMI Edmond North-OKC, the local organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will offer its Family-to-Family Education Program beginning Sept. 2. It will contine Sept. 4 and 8-9. Classes will be at Crossings Community Church, Quail Springs United Methodist Church, Francis Tuttle Technology Center (Portland campus), Tinker AFB Chapel and the Thunderbird Club House in Norman.
    NAMI Family-to-Family is a free 12-session education program for family caregivers of adults living with mental illness. The sessions are offered once a week for a few hours each.

    July 30, 2014

  • clinic 1.jpg Edmond church to host free eye clinic

    An Edmond church and Feed the Children are partnering to provide a free eye clinic.
    Individuals will be able to receive a free vision test and free prescription eye glasses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Waterloo Road Baptist Church, 3100 E. Waterloo Road. All ages are welcome and registration is not required.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • UCO forensic volunteer wants to aid more agencies

    A four-person group of forensic investigators who volunteer their time to help smaller Oklahoma police departments isn’t enough to meet demand, a member said.
    Kama King, who recently completed her graduate research and will be a member of the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Forensic Science Institute, said outside of full-time jobs, members of the group volunteer to assist these agencies.
    As her career progresses, King hopes to help establish a permanently funded organization available to any agency in the state to assist in remains recovery as well as related training.

    July 29, 2014

  • jc_ITS map.jpg City to improve traffic flow

    The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the  installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
    ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • jc_Earp Marlin 2 - photo credit Noel Winters.jpg Shootout of a sale

    An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 80.
    Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 11.6.12 Mother and Cub (2).jpg UCO forensic researcher answers key question

    After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
    “You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Karan & Rwanda.jpg Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs

    Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
    Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How to care for your pet without breaking the bank

    It’s a shame furry friends can’t pay for themselves. Though wagging tails after a long day at work may make pet ownership seem worthwhile, a happy pup won’t stop those bills from rolling in at the end of the month. Thankfully, quick and easy ways exist for dog owners to cut down on costs.

    July 28, 2014

  • MS_new pastor_Page_1.tiff Local church welcomes new pastor

    For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
    Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos