It’s another morning, 6 a.m., and most everyone is thinking about waking up, getting the day started. I’m up and thinking about our Veterans and their care.

I see the new VA hospital as a more prominent resource in the New Orleans area. Our team is more complete and poised to start seeing patients. Of course, there are a million things that still have to come together.

The anxiety is high, the stress is high, the expectations are high.

Within all of it, we have a strong inner confidence that we will deliver a state-of-the-art medical center to Veterans in a region that hasn’t had its own VA hospital in over 10 years, putting good people to work in an area that does not have an overabundance of jobs, moving VA forward to serve our honorable mission for decades to come.

This inner confidence comes from each team member’s personal commitment and loyalty to our Veterans. We are successful because all along this journey we have focused on the patients, all 41,000+ we are currently seeing at our outpatient clinics, in the new Veterans medical center and through multiple community partnerships.

Fernando RiveraBecause our common culture has effectively transitioned from a 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday – Friday, in a system of clinics, to a 24/7 operating environment, our commitment has strengthened.

Because we have successfully transitioned to an organizational culture committed to excellence in customer service at all levels, we have become an organization where all understand their personal connection to the Veterans we serve.

A year from now we will have improved our business processes even further, as well as our patient satisfaction results, and our continued simulations and dress rehearsals will have led us to the full activation of the new hospital.

For me, it’s a dream come true episode of my life. I grew up in New Orleans, worked at the old hospital for 20 years, met my wife at the old hospital 22 years ago, our children were born in New Orleans and it is our home in our hearts. Equally important, it is where I learned about and fell in love with our VA – where I made the personal commitment to serve our honorable mission. A year from now, I will have the privilege of serving our patients and the privilege of leading this organization in bringing back a VA hospital to the “Big Easy.”

A year from now is not a stopping point. It’s a milestone, a high point in Veteran-centered care. I know that we are an organization that’s going to reach it and keep growing.

Editor’s note:  This week, Director Rivera spoke with DAV, who is hosting its 2017 national convention in New Orleans, about the new hospital. Click here to watch that interview or watch below.

Fernando RiveraFernando O. Rivera has served Veterans for 30 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs.  He currently serves as director of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.

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Published on Jul. 28, 2017

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  1. G K GERDES August 8, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    They will find you “Joe Smith”! HAHA! Good luck to you! I know of too many at the New Orleans VA that weren’t lucky enough to have a NP to catch that stuff. I just hope the Vets Choice Program stays around or I will actually be moving out of state. I can’t risk my care or life at the New Orleans VA!

  2. Joe Smith August 4, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Just spoke to a young Vet who told me he went to the New Orleans Hospital and they refused to treat him and another Vet that was also waiting to be served . The hospital eventually called the police to have them both removed. I also have a friend of my son who works at the hospital who told me not to go to that Hospital. The VA is now hiring doctors gained from the bottom of the barrel. I have a new doctor that according to the reviews on doctor review sites she has a 1.5 rating out of 5. I’m lucky I also have Medicare but others who are younger do not . Since the VA is as crooked as our government I will use a anonymous name otherwise using my real name could cause me trouble. This doctor changed the dosage of my meds which caused my blood pressure to go dangerously low, my daughter is a NP and caught it in time …

  3. G K GERDES August 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Even with all of your Blah Blah Blah this way over budget hospital isn’t operating any better than the old “clinics” that were operating where the old hospital was. I need a urology appt. I call in early June, it is set for Aug 11. Mid July it is “cancelled by clinic” so I call to reschedule. New appt is sept 30! 4 months to see urology! That is a lot of pain and discomfort to have to wait 4 months. What do the appt people and patient advocates say? Sir, you can always go to urgent care if your needs are that great. I have used urgent care. I have waited in urgent care for hours to be seen to be given some meds and to be refereed to a clinic for the issue. You still have a lot of the long wait times. You still have a lot of the same snotty staff. You also have a lot of the awesome staff. Pain clinic – A+, Operators A+, Appointment clerks A+ to F- depending on who you get and if they want to work. The problem is your still playing politician and not listening to your veterans. And the 4 month urology is only 1 example.

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