Aug. 20 was National Lemonade Day, a great day for the Columbia VA Health Care System. It allowed them to formally celebrate the Living Every Moment Optimistically Nonstop and Defying Expectations (LEMONADE) Pledge.

Each of its 2,900 staff pledged to make Columbia VA the best it can be for South Carolina Veterans.

Columbia VA mascot “Sunshine” puts a smile on everyone’s face.

They were also able to celebrate winning a national competition in patient experience with their LEMONADE pledge initiative.

As employees arrived at work, leadership thanked them for their commitment to excellent customer service. Leaders also distributed lemon-shaped cookies with attached wording that embodied their lemonade pledge. Each staff member made a special pledge, allowing them to focus on how they can make every day special for Veterans.

“Great work involves teamwork.”

“I could not be prouder of the Columbia VA,” said CVAHCS Director and Executive Officer David Omura.

Pictured above, Omura greets employees with “lemonade” cookies.

“There is never one person that makes lasting change occur. Great work involves teamwork, and I’d like to publicly say thank you to all of Columbia’s employees for their deliberate effort in enhancing our Veterans’ experiences despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.”

Angela Walker

Columbia VA was recently recognized nationally as a leader in patient experience. VA selected Columbia as a winner for a Patient Experience Award in Culture Innovation for their LEMONADE Pledge Program.

Trust and commitment

This program hardwires trust and commitment to Veterans in everything employees do, thereby improving the patient experience for Veterans.

The facility quickly embraced the adage of “turning lemons into lemonade.” It asked employees to make a pledge to bring about a more positive patient experience, deliver excellent customer service, and increase Veterans’ trust in the health care system.

Through this program, Columbia VA staff have created a shared culture of commitment. That commitment drives consistent behaviors to change the overall patient experience. It also delivers the best health care possible for its Veterans.

“To come in and receive a welcome like this with all the lemonade items really boosts morale,” said Angela Walker, administrative officer for primary care. “It makes me feel really good. I do believe in the LEMONADE pledge and my pledge is to be the change that I want to see in others.”

Columbia VA hopes other VAs will be able to adopt this initiative at their facility to help bring about a more positive experience for all Veterans.

Marlous Black is a public affairs specialist and Ken Holt is a medical media photographer for the Columbia VA Health Care System.

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Published on Sep. 2, 2020

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