The public affairs officer at the Marion VA Medical Center, Kevin Harris, replied by email to the Marion Republican's request for comment to the issues raised by Congressmen Mike Bost and Jack Bergman. (Here, The VA is posing both questions and answers). He writes:
VA appreciates the lawmakers' concerns and will respond to them directly, but in the meantime, please see below:
What is VA doing to address issues at the Marion VAMC?
Secretary Shulkin has made clear his drive for real change and fixing problems at VA. As a result, we're taking steps aggressively to identify risks and vulnerabilities across the department before they grow into real problems.
When we believe facilities need extra attention -- such as in Marion -- they receive it promptly. VA has sent multiple teams to Marion to assess and support the facility. The teams have made recommendations to positively impact personnel and morale concerns, improve accountability and strengthen communication structures. The Marion VA has been actively implementing these recommendations. In fact, the Marion VA has already addressed 97 percent of the action items associated with review team recommendations.
What personnel changes have been made?
Last year, Marion VAMC appointed a new medical center director, associate director, chief of staff, chief of extended care and rehab, chief of medicine, chief of engineering, and chief of surgery. These key leaders add stability and direction to the growing team of VA health care professionals. In fiscal year 2017, the medical center hired 260 employees. To date, 65 positions have been filled in fiscal year 2018.
In December 2017, Marion VAMC hosted a successful job fair. More than 350 applicants attended. To date, 15 applicants were hired from the job fair, with the expectation that others will be hired in clinical and administrative professions.
What is being done to change the culture?
For the past several months, the Marion VAMC Director has been diligently working to address all concerns and recommendations starting with the selection of key leadership positions throughout the health care system. Additionally, the facility leadership team has worked aggressively to receive open feedback from all employees, improve communication, and develop and implement an action plan to train supervisors at all levels in order to promote a consistent leadership framework. The Marion VAMC leadership team has openly welcomed all review teams, as we always strive to improve our care and our processes so we can provide the highest quality care to our Veterans.