Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Monthly Report from the Director
Scott R. Isaacks, FACHE
Medical Center Director
50th Commemorative of the Vietnam War Proclamation and Pins
March 22, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
VAMC Main Lobby
You can also download a printable version of this report.
As Secretary McDonald has shared his vision for the characteristics leaders in VA should embody, an initiative known as Leaders Developing Leaders has ignited across our Department to cultivate leaders at all levels to better serve our Veterans. VA leaders will consistently put the Veteran first, work to improve care quality and delivery while streamlining processes, and advance the health care experience for every Veteran. We are extremely fortunate to have a number of talented leaders at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center who are fully committed to developing innovative approaches to health care issues and treatment. We are also working closely with our up-and-coming team members to advance their leadership skills – skills that are founded on inventive thinking, consistently involving patients and families in care decisions and treatment options, and sharing our best practices with other VAs across the country as we also learn from them. These innovations in health care, which are advanced every day through our $20 million research program and multiple interdisciplinary teams working together, are improving the health outcomes of Veterans throughout South Carolina and Georgia and the country at large.
One of our most recent innovations that is having a tremendous positive impact on Veteran health is the implementation of a recovery model on our inpatient mental health unit. Not long ago, this unit, known as 3-A, took on the challenge of reducing mental health inpatient readmissions, and decreasing the number of episodes of using restraint and seclusion among patients. Using the Lean Six Sigma model – a collaborative problem-solving approach – the staff speculated that in addition to their mental health treatment, most patients might also benefit from playing an active role in their treatment plan and re-learning life skills that would help them cope outside the hospital. An interdisciplinary team that included providers, caregivers and staff from a number of services across the medical center began working together to implement a new, more productive recovery model that would encourage patients to actively participate in developing an individualized, goal-oriented treatment plan.
The new recovery model focuses on giving patients hope and empowering them to play a role in their own treatment. The services offered – which span from basic health education to career planning – are specific to each Veteran's needs and incorporate the goals of their personalized recovery plan. Dietitians and nutritionists provide lessons on how to develop and incorporate healthy eating habits; Customer Service provides training on how to navigate the VA system; VA police offer techniques for staying safe and reducing risks in the community; Human Resources provides training on identifying career goals and the job application process; Nurse educators even offer patients training in basic first aid and emergency response techniques. And these are only some of the skills being offered to Veteran patients.
Since implementing this patient-centered recovery model two years ago, there has been a notable decrease in the percentage of readmissions in the unit (starting at 12.5 percent during the early stages of the new recovery model and dropping to 2.1 percent once the program had been implemented for some time). Staff also noted a 37 percent reduction in seclusion and restraint episodes, with a 40 percent reduction in their duration. With the implementation of the new recovery model, Veterans are now utilizing the time they are here more effectively, and taking those skills with them into the real world. Lower readmission rates save VA thousands of health care dollars, allowing us to serve even more Veterans.
3-A is just one example of how the staff here at Charleston VA work together to ensure your complete health is our priority. We are devoted to partnering with you, our stakeholders, to provide the best care anywhere for all our Veterans.
I am also currently in the process of broadening our VSO Advisory Board that I established when I became the director at our VA. We are expanding to include VSO advisors across the various communities we serve in South Carolina and Georgia, and I will be working directly with these advisors in their communities to make our community clinics and health care system even better. We know that having a direct line of communication with the Veterans we serve is the best way to continue to improve and have a lasting impact on your health care. Thank you for entrusting us with your care and we will continue to work to provide you with the tools to live your healthiest life.