VA hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah

SWS Task Force has a new focus

Patient satisfaction will be the specific focus of The American Legion’s next round of System Worth Saving (SWS) Task Force visits to VA medical centers across the country. Task force members will also evaluate the facilities’ overall quality of health care being provided to veterans. Site visits will be conducted in April, May and June.

"The committee wants to assess how VA tracks and monitors quality of care and patient satisfaction at each facility, and at the national and Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) levels," said Jacob Gadd, deputy director for health care in the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division.

During its meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 1-2, the SWS committee heard from several leading Veterans Health Administration staff, including Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s under secretary for health; Dr. Robert Jesse, principal deputy under secretary for health; Roxane Rusch, acting assistant deputy under secretary for health for quality, safety and value; Dr. Robin Hemphill, deputy chief patient safety office director, VA National Center for Patient Safety; Dr. Joseph Francis, director, clinical analysis and reporting, Office of Informatics and Analytics; Dr. Tracy W. Gaudet, M.D., director, Office of Patient-Centered Care & Cultural Transformation, VISN 5; Fernando Rivera, VISN 5 director; Dr. Fred Hyde, clinical professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; and Dr. Joel Kupersmith, chief development officer for the VA Office of Research and Development.

After the presentations, the committee developed a questionnaire for VA facilities to determine how quality is defined, measured and managed, and how VA Central Office, VISNs and VA facilities demonstrate accountability for quality of care and patient satisfaction at all of these levels.

The SWS Task Force will conduct site visits from April through June at 24 VA medical centers across the country. The task force will also conduct focus groups near the facilities at American Legion posts to hear from veterans on their quality of care and patient satisfaction experiences. During site visits, the task force will interview administrators, quality assurance officers, patient safety officers, patient-aligned care team coordinators, employee union representatives, directors of patient-care services, patient advocates and other staff.

Gadd provided an update on the SWS committee’s pending report on rural health care, which will be released during the Spring 2012 National Executive Committee meetings in Indianapolis, May 4-10.

Additional meeting attendees included Michael Helm, chairman of the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission; Vice Chairman Michael Suter, and American Legion past national commanders Ron Conley, Jimmie Foster and Paul Morin.

For questions regarding the SWS program, or to share a quality of care, patient satisfaction experience or concern, please contact Jacob Gadd at or (202)861-2700.