Jan 29 2014


A meeting of the Stakeholders of the Kerrville VA facility was held on 29 January 2014 in the Boardroom of the Facility Executive Suites. The meeting was attended by

Vicki Marsh, Womens Veterans Coalition, President Hill Country Veterans Council
Gary Noller, President Hill Country Veterans Alliance, HCVC
Kirk Kinley, DAV Post 167, Fredericksburg, HCVC
Tami King, CVSO Gillespie County
Del Irons, American Legion 244, Fredericksburg
Ben Rosario, TX Veterans Commission
Bill Bacon, MOPH 814, First Vice President Hill Country Veterans Council
Emilio Rendon, Marine Corps League, HCVC
Byron Warren, Commander MOPH 814
Vince Ramirez, Director Peer Network, Commander VFW Post 1480, Kerrville
Art Modgling, VVA
Alan Hill, VVA, HCVC

Marie Weldon, Director STHCS
Joe Perez, Assoc Director STHCS
Zach Selover, Chief Medical Administrative Officer
Sharon Millican, Assoc Director for Patient Care Services
Tricia Lotte, Acting Assistant Director STHCS
Nenette Madla, Acting Public Affairs Officer, STHCS

Ann (?) Asst to Congressman Lamar Smith
Mathew Hall, Asst to Congressman Pete Gallegos

Leading the meeting were MS. Marie Weldon, Director, STVAHCS, Mr. Joe Perez, Associate Director of the South Texas Health Care System, Mr. Paul Gregory, Administrative Director, Kerrville VA Facility. The meeting was called to order at 1020 hours.

Director Weldon began with a financial briefing saying that our budget for South Texas last year was $646mm. This year’s budget is $639mm which includes a good deal of restricted spending or funds that arte included in the budget but are assigned to specific projects or programs. In FY 13, we had 3,349 full time employees. The FY budget calls for 3,478. We have reached 30% of our goal for third party collections which includes some Tri-Care collections. Last year was an excellent year for Tri-Care collections at $2.5m which can be used for salaries. Fee based expenses are running $37mm, and they are working with DoD to send patients to military facilities like SAMMC which will reduce cost of care. In addition Patient Center Community Care will reduce spending beginning in April. Equipment purchases were $13m for FY13 which covered all requests. Their budget for FY14 is $2-3m more.

Mr. Zach Selover briefed on the Vet Link kiosk program. This project is similar to airport self check machines in that they will be placed strategically throughout the hospital and allow veterans to access much information such as appointments, fasting requirements before appointments, labs, etc. Eventually, the program will allow access to all of the veterans information and will be able to submit travel vouchers. The project is scheduled to go live in Kerrville on May 12, but that is a tentative date. We will have 8 kiosks on 5 floors mostly in the primary care teams area and the specialty clinics. The Kerrville program is decentralized which means the veteran can access information from any VA facility and not just the Kerrville VAH. It will have printing capability. Orientation will be conducted by the closest clinic desks or by VAVS Volunteers.

Tami King said that some of the Gillespie County veterans are having difficulty in collecting travel pay. She also mentioned a training program where the VHA can educate and update VSOs and others on critical issues such as eligibility, enrollment, contact information, etc. MS Weldon agreed to the program and suggested Tami make a list of the topics she felt should be covered. It was further agreed that the training would be conducted immediately following the MAC meetings.

Vicki Marsh emphasized that Paul Gregory is doing an outstanding job of keeping the Council advised of situations as they arise. The next topic she had was about the availability of Psychiatrists and the cap limit of $250k. MS. Weldon said they were being offered the cap, but there was an issue of finding someone who wanted to live in the Hill Country. A lively discussion ensued. Vicki then said she had heard that in the epilepsy clinic there was equipment being unused and a waiting list of some 100 veterans who needed help. MS Weldon said she was not sure of the status of the equipment but was emphatic that there was no waiting list and that all patients who needed care were being sent to the UTHSC in San Antonio. Finally, Vicki suggested that MS. Weldon send an invitation to all Commanders of the veteran organizations in the Hill Country to attend the MAC meetings.

Kirk Kinley suggested that drop boxes be placed at the different clinics in San Antonio for deposit of travel claims and that these drop boxes would be checked and emptied daily and the claims taken to the appropriate travel office.

Alan Hill commented that Mrs. Kenedy in cardiology was doing an excellent job of checking pace makers and other equipment. She is now coming to Kerrville once per month and started in November.

There is an optician on staff every Tuesday from 0900-1600.

A question arose about the Kerrville National Cemetery. MS. Weldon replied that comes under the auspices of the Veterans Cemetery Administration, and she does not have any authority or information concerning the cemetery. Alan Hill and Bill Bacon explained the cemetery is currently closed due to lack of space for further graves. The ruling from VCA is that no new cemeteries can be opened within 75 miles of an existing cemetery which places the Kerrville Cemetery within the limits of the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. However, Bill Bacon explained that during a contact with VCA, he was told that the ruling may be changed to 50 miles which would put Kerrville outside the limit of Ft. Sam Houston. Further there is 13 acres of property for sale adjacent to the Cemetery and the VA Hospital that perhaps could be used to expand the Cemetery. This would require a major fund raising effort in the Hill Country and if successful and the land is purchased it would be donated to the VCA for development and eternal maintenance. However, the VCA is not required to accept the land due to the costs involved both developmental and long term maintenance. Bill Bacon said he would volunteer to follow up on the issue and explain it at an HCVC meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 1045 hours.

Notes presented by Bill Bacon. To make sure they are complete, please send corrections, additions and other changes to bbacon11@hctc.net

Comments to us or the V. A. would be greatly appreciated.