Secretary Bob McDonald and VA leadership gathered with a team of skilled experts from the private, non-profit and government sectors in Tampa, Florida, to discuss the changes needed to improve customer service and long-term Veteran outcomes.
With his own private-sector experience, McDonald recognized the need for an outside advisory board and established the MyVA Advisory Committee (MVAC) in April 2015. This is the committee’s third meeting, the first outside of Washington, D.C., and is focusing on implementation of the MyVA plan.
“We are really changing from planning to execution… Now that we have set the priorities, what are some of the roadblocks that we need to be looking out for? How do we get the right people in the right spots with the right tools?” said Scott Blackburn, who oversees the MyVA initiative.
Tampa, was chosen for the MVAC’s first offsite meeting not only because Florida is home to more than 10 percent of the nation’s Veterans but also because of the Tampa VA Medical Center’s new primary care annex. McDonald and the MVAC toured the Tampa medical center, met with patients and listened to their feedback.
The facility, which is strategically placed next to one of Tampa’s main highways, provides primary care services, ancillary services and is home to a 10,000 square foot comprehensive women’s clinic and a homeless patient aligned care team.
“A Veteran checks in, goes to a room and everyone comes to that Veteran, the Veteran doesn’t move. The doctor, nurse, dietitian, psychologist or anyone else – everyone goes to that room,” said Joe Battle, medical center director of the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa. “It’s a one-stop shop for the Veteran.”
The primary care annex is a state of the art model for the delivery of primary health care and its success is being replicated across the VA healthcare system.
The MVAC will continue to not only observe and promote best practices within VA, but will also advise McDonald of prevailing techniques from the private and non-profit sector to assist with the VA transformation.