Thursday, December 30, 2004

"A Crumbling, Filthy Mess"

The Denver Post has documented the sad decline of the city's Department of Veterans Affaris (VA) Medical Center. A 2004 inspection report found, in the reporter's words, the Medical Center to be "a crumbling, filthy mess."
Undoubtably, one cause of the problems is a national one, funding for the US national health care system for veterans that has failed to keep up with increasing patient loads. In the 1990's, Congress reduced restrictions on veterans' eligibility for VA care, but failed to allocate funding that kept pace with the increasing numbers of patients in the national health care system. In particular, the Eastern Colorado regional budget in 2004 was less than that of 2002, even though patients and visits have gone up by about 20% in the two years. (See "Demand Strains VA Sites in State," and "VA Center on a Skid Since 2002." )
On the other hand, the series of articles suggest local management problems affecting employee morale. A Denver area VA spokesperson declared, "we have very high patient satisfaction scores," and "our patients really do love coming here." However, one patient, a navy officer, said that VA employees "really seem like they don't want to be there." A technician who refused to let her name be published because of fear of retribution said "it has been dirty here for years. We've been telling them and telling them."
Maybe now they will get the message

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