Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Monthly Report from the Director
Scott R. Isaacks, FACHE
Medical Center Director
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Here in the Lowcountry and along the Georgia shore, blooming flowers, buzzing bees, and warmer days are sure signs that spring is here. The new season brings renewal and with it a renewed dedication among us at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center to the responsibility we have for providing you best health care anywhere.
Last month, the Joint Commission—an independent body that assesses hospitals and health care organizations nationwide—visited Charleston VAMC. This evaluating body visits the medical center at least once every three years to assess performance standards in several areas, including patient care, medication safety, infection control and consumer rights. We are proud that after a careful assessment by this team, once again, Charleston VAMC has maintained its full accreditation by the Joint Commission and was recognized by the surveyors for multiple best practices and the high quality of integrated care provided here.
With each visit, we're happy that our team gets to be seen in action--working to get our Veterans healthy and help them achieve total wellness. Members of the survey committee commented on the level of engagement they observed among our health care providers and the level of commitment they showed to each patient they saw. We hope that you can sense how dedicated our staff is to ensuring you receive innovative and effective care that can enhance every aspect of your life. Take our physical therapists, for example.
Last spring, two physical therapists at our medical center who regularly work with Veteran patients with Parkinson's disease took it upon themselves to get trained and certified in a novel therapeutic exercise practice that would help their patients manage the illness more effectively. A number of Veterans live with Parkinson's, a disease that causes changes in the brain that lead to body movements becoming smaller and smaller and eventually severely restricts body mobility. The new technique, called LSVT BIG therapy, trains patients to use bigger movements in all aspects of daily life, which increases the amplitude of limb and body movement.
Since being introduced at Charleston, BIG therapy has made a huge difference in the lives of the Veterans with Parkinson's. In the last year, several patients successfully completed the full course of therapy—a rigorous hour-long therapy session four days a week—and three others are currently receiving the treatment. Recently, additional staff members have been certified in this training and your VA now has five Charleston VAMC staff members that make it possible for more of our patients to receive BIG therapy. Additionally, we are now able to provide VA Hoptel services (hotel accommodations provided by VA) for Veteran patients who live outside of the Charleston area, so that they are also able to receive the intensive, 4-week long therapy course. Because of this, our team has been able to provide therapy for patients in Beaufort, Georgetown, McClellanville, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The result... Veterans with an all too often, debilitating disease are living fuller, more productive lives.
Being able to offer BIG therapy in our medical center began with the commitment and tenacity of two physical therapists who wanted to make a difference in the lives of their patients. And they’re not the only ones. I have been listening to health care providers throughout the medical center who are eagerly finding ways to provide additional health care services to you and your fellow Veterans. I'm excited for the next phase of access and innovative care their ideas will spawn.
As we enter the new season, we hope that you will continue to entrust us with your health care needs. Recognition by organizations like The Joint Commission is important, but for our team, helping you reach your health goals is the greatest accolade we can ever achieve.
Scott R. Isaacks