Sec. Robert McDonald speaks with patients at the Phoenix VA Medical Center #ICARE

Sec. Robert McDonald speaks with patients at the Phoenix VA Medical Center #ICARE

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald today announced that VA has initiated an independent, nation-wide review of all scheduling practices at VA medical facilities. In his first trip as Secretary, McDonald also announced a series of additional actions to improve Veterans’ access to timely, quality health care following a series of meetings with Veterans and employees at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

“VA is committed to instilling integrity into our scheduling practices to deliver the timely care that veterans deserve,” said Secretary McDonald.  “It is important that our scheduling practices be reviewed by a respected, independent source to help restore trust in our system, and I’m grateful to the Joint Commission for taking on this critical task.”

Secretary McDonald announced that every VA medical center will undergo an independent review of scheduling and access practices beginning this Fall. The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

“I’ve pledged to our nation’s Veterans to honor the president’s charge to transform the department and put the Veteran at the center of everything we do,” McDonald added. “We will continue to take a series of actions that will enable us to improve Veterans’ access to timely care here in Phoenix and across the country. I want to continue to hear from Veterans and VA employees directly to improve VA business operations to serve Veterans more efficiently and effectively.”

Additionally, Secretary McDonald outlined actions VA will take in the coming weeks and months to accelerate access to care for veterans:

  • To ensure the presence and alignment of the proper elements needed for an ethical culture, VA will conduct a holistic review that results in actionable initiatives to ensure a strong ethical environment across our healthcare system.
  • Require all VA medical center directors to notify the under secretary for health if access or quality of care standards are not being met.
  • Review all senior leader performance plans in the Veterans Health Administration to better align with VA’s strategic plan and the outcomes that matter most – satisfied Veterans.
  • Review VA’s employee performance goals to ensure they are focused on providing timely quality care.
  • Require medical center directors to ensure that all VA staff with scheduling privileges complete the mandatory scheduler training in compliance with VA’s scheduling directive, as they are doing in Phoenix.

On Aug. 5, VA Secretary McDonald directed all VA health care and benefits facilities to hold town-hall events by the end of September to improve communication with, and hear directly from, veterans nation-wide.

Read more about actions taken to accelerate access to care for Veterans at the Phoenix

Below are photos of the secretary’s visit to the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

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Published on Aug. 8, 2014

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 72


  1. Dafiti August 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Great content.

  2. Norman F. Seiff August 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Have you tried calling the Phoenix VA Hospital for anything lately? You can’t even get an operator to answer to get transferred! I’ve been trying to reach my Primary Care Dr. to ask why after being out of my acid reflux and anti-depression meds for 5 weeks now, dropping off the empty bottles at his clinic with a note asking him, please to renew the prescriptions and too many phone attempts to reach him to mention to mention…..Why I can’t get new prescriptions…..Geez, I hope I don’t have to go through this for my Heart Meds

  3. cupom de desconto Submarino August 12, 2014 at 8:04 am

    from the startt i always said they cared about us. america will never hurt the veterans by choice.

  4. Kay Merkel Boruff August 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I found your website looking for somewhere for my vets to write, blog, expand their horizons.

    I volunteer at the Veterans Recovery Center VA-NT Dallas. We just presented our 2nd veteran-written play “Be Bop Is Dead,” directed by Viet-Nam veteran-actor-volunteer, accompanied by the VRC Basement Band–to a standing ovation in VAMC Bonham.

    You could cover out “story” of “veterans helping veterans.”

  5. Manny Rogosich August 9, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Veterans want to speak to decision makers when it comes to their claims. Not a call center that do nothing but cover up and make excuses for the regional centers! It is ridiculous how a regional center will not take call from a veteran who needs to know where his claim is at and who is making decisions with his future? Why is it so secretive? When I applied for social security it took 90 days from beginning to end! Why does it take 2 years if you’re lucky? I find it difficult to understand why they don’t just take a page from social security? We are at the mercy of these call centers and its impossible to get an answer that makes sense. If you call them 4 times in a row you get 4 different answer and if you question “why is it taking so long they tell you “we are handling thousands of claims” and you have to be patient! The president has allocated 17 billion dollars to the VA and I seriously doubt it will improve the VA to satisfy a veteran desire to speak with someone who can expedite his claim or receive proper care.

  6. patrick jahnke August 9, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    U know they can talk and say this and that but when u a veteran Ccc doc he/she will say what going happen next. If that veteran been taking narcotics drug doc go cancel them try antidepressant drugs that Dont work . and cause more problems . the veteran affairs is making a video to show why they are changing any veteran who’s on any narcotics drugs and to meds can make veteran be worse. It going take time veteran will have problem body use to narcotics drugs. And make him /her do something . go crazy shot up the doctors who took those meds away. It need closer look before u take any narcotics drug stone cold away. I fight 6 months I still have pain. Burn nerve pain not nerve pain pain clinic it cover up. I done it 4 yrs ago same bs no help in pain 24/7 the va gave me the pill respark burn nerve pain and know I have do this that start all over. And tell this doc I can not take NO antidepressant drugs . I head injury 1977 heal part boot left side of head more than10x getting 100% doc Dont care listen or chk med record . these new doc dont know how do paper work follow up to Ccc that right person to help a veteran not prolong the care like their doing to me . my doc retired and 4 other ones did in madison it took them 8 month to give me a doctor . I seen what a be nurses to be doctors. They screw meds up know waiting for the new doctor figure that out he does know shit .

  7. paul t walton jr August 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    For non combat vets that signed up for healthcare after 2003 you can not get aproved if you make to much money. if you signed up before 2003 you don’t have to worry about how much money you make.What about how sick you are? is this not a double standard? I could have signed up before 2003 but did not need VA heath care at that time . I did the right thing and now have to pay for it.

    • Sue M. August 11, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Paul, if you are sick because of a service-connected issue then it won’t matter how much money you make. Unfortunately, if your illness is NOT related to your service and you make too much money then you are out of luck unless you qualify for a financial hardship.

  8. thomas m gomez August 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

    from the startt i always said they cared about us. america will never hurt the veterans by choice. like i said before. let them fix it. you will see how much they realy care about us. glad we have the va… and greatfull for what they do for us……

    they do for us.

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