Monthly Report from the Director - Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center


Monthly Report from the Director

March 2015

Mr. Scott Isaacks, Medical Center Director

Mr. Scott Isaacks, FACHE
Medical Center Director

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Parking Deck Groundbreaking
March 27, 10:00 a.m.,
Charleston VAMC back parking lot

Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic Groundbreaking featuring Sen. Johnny Isakson
April 20, 10:00 a.m.,
11111 Rio Rd., Savannah, GA

Homeless Veteran Community Resource and Referral Center Grand Opening featuring VA Deputy Secretary The Honorable Sloan D. Gibson
June 5, 10:00 a.m.
2424 Mall Dr., North Charleston, SC

The beginning of spring is an exciting time as new growth surrounds us with renewed energy and the promise of sunnier days ahead. For many of us it also marks a return to favorite outdoor activities that are more fully enjoyed when we are at optimum health. Last month I shared with you the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center's quality of care accomplishments – a 5 Star rating that ranks us in the top 10 percent of VA medical centers nationwide, and our top 10th percentile ranking compared to public and private sector hospitals. Measurements of clinical quality are very important because it assures that you, our Veteran patients, are receiving the best care anywhere at your VA. But what is even more important is that these evaluation tools and a number of others used in VA include metrics based on patient experiences.

The truth is excellent health care does not happen without excellent customer service in all areas and at all levels of the Charleston VA. Health care is much more than lab tests, diagnosing conditions, and clinical procedures. It's about you – your health goals, your questions and concerns, your care experience. As we continue our journey of daily improvement at your VA, we are concentrating efforts in every area to improve our customer service and make your care experience simply exceptional.

We have made a number of customer service improvements like valet parking, DAV shuttle rides between Charleston area VA clinics and the medical center, alternative therapies including our Tai Chi and Yoga classes for Veterans. I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to provide input to help us improve your VA. Your partnership is critical to our continuous improvement efforts, and by working together we are making your VA better every day.

VA Veteran Listening Forum and Veteran Job Fair

Charleston VAMC and the Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office, Columbia partnered with Sen. Tim Scott's Veteran Job Fair on March 9 at the North Charleston Convention Center providing a one-stop shop for VA services and much needed employment. More than 100 employers including such companies as Boeing, SCE&G, South Carolina Highway Patrol, South Carolina Ports Authority, and many others welcomed approximately 1,000 Veteran job seekers to the event. VBA offered claims workshops and had 20 claims processors there to assist Veterans. Charleston VAMC hosted a health fair, onsite enrollment for VA health care, and a forum with VAMC leadership at the event. Your comments were overwhelmingly positive – it is wonderful to hear first-hand your stories of the high quality care and compassion given by our team. Your comments truly do inspire us and I thank you for sharing them with me.

Overcoming Pain through Alternative Therapies

Living with chronic pain is a challenge faced by many Veterans. That is why in 2009 we established an interdisciplinary Pain Management Team and adopted complimentary treatments and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, herbals, aromatherapy, mindfulness, meditation, pain education, and most recently Tai Chi classes. The interdisciplinary team approach, which includes the Veteran, physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and mental health professionals working together, works to establish a personalized health plan with each Veteran to minimize use of chronic opioids, reduce pain levels through alternative methods, and improve quality of life for the patient. These efforts have helped many Veterans stop or significantly reduce use of opioid pain medications, and have made Charleston VAMC is a nationally recognized leader for appropriately managing opioid use. With just 2.12% of its total patient population on chronic opioid therapy, Charleston VAMC is 5% below the national percentage for patients dispensed opioids. Charleston VAMC also has an active Pain Oversight Committee including Pain Management, Primary Care, Mental Health, Pharmacy, and Quality Management to ensure appropriate protocols and patient safety and care standards are implemented and followed across the health care system.

Parking Update

The Parking Deck Groundbreaking Ceremony is right around the corner. Join us on March 27 at 10:00 a.m. at the VA back parking lot for the ceremony and celebration. The deck will be located in the back of the medical center and will supplement onsite parking for Veterans and employees. New parking options will also begin in March. We are adding 600 offsite parking spaces and a convenient shuttle service to bring Veterans and staff to the VA.

Opening on Monday, March 23, the offsite parking, located at 41 Folly Rd., will be available to Veterans, visitors and staff Monday through Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Shuttles will run every 5 minutes during peak hours of 6:00 – 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 – 5:30 p.m., and every 15 minutes during other times. Veteran and visitor parking at the VAMC and our complimentary valet parking service, which we are currently working to improve, are also available to better serve you.


It really is an exciting time at your VA. Next month we will break ground on a new VA outpatient clinic in Savannah and soon we will open our Tele-Mental Health Lease and our Homeless Veteran Community Resource and Referral Center in North Charleston. As we grow, our goal continues to be providing the very best care anywhere with personalized services that meet your health care needs and exceed your patient experience expectations.

Thank you for choosing the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center as your health care provider of choice. We look forward to serving you for many years to come.