July 19 2016


Hill Country Veteran Council Meeting
July 19, 2016
Kerrville Chamber of Commerce

HCVC Officers: President Vicki Marsh, SVP Dennis Birchall 2VP Byron Warren
HCVC Members: Bill Cantrell, Emilio Rendon, Cord Switzer,
KVA: Kim Hoge,
Guests: Nick Oprea, Mike Cagle, Gary Powers

General Topics
President Vicki Marsh opened the meeting complimenting South Texas Veterans Health Care Services (STVHCS) on the information session after the July 12, 2016 Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting at the Kerrville Veterans Administration Medical Center (KVAMC). STVHCS provided attendees with briefings on VA Heath Care Eligibility and Enrollment, Co Pays, and Travel Pay. STVHCS also talked about the new procedure for Veterans to apply for their travel pay at Kiosks vice doing it at the billing office.

Processing Lab Samples
If a Veteran comes in for labs in advance of their appointment their labs will be reviewed at their appointment. If labs are completed the same day of appointment, a follow-up phone call and/or letter will be mailed to the Veteran. Ms. Hoge stressed that Veterans receive either a mailed or phone reminder of appointments. It is important that Veterans come in for labs a week or so prior to their appointment so the labs are ready for their appointment. Doing the labs the same day of the appointment ensures the labs will NOT be ready for the Veteran’s appointment. Ms, Hoge explained that Lab equipment upgrades will continue after the scheduled survey in August to check proficiency of lab personnel. In the interim, some lab samples will continue to be sent to Audie twice a day. Note: Lab orders are valid 30 days before and 30 days after a scheduled appointment.

STVHCS has started advertising vacancies at the KVAMC in the Kerrville Daily Times. Ms. Hoge provided HCVC members with a list of vacancies at the Kerrville Medical Center and where those vacancies are in the hiring process at STVHCS. Prior to the Information-Sharing Meeting, STVHCS stated that they have identified a replacement for the Release of Information Clerk at KVAMC.
Ms Hoge renewed her offer to have us meet with the Director of Human Resources to help us better understand how the VA process works. She had suggested August, but more members may be traveling then. So, we agreed upon Sept. and the HCVC owes her a proposed date e.g. Fri .

Urgent Care/Same-Day Service
Ms. Hoge clarified that when veterans call their teams to receive urgent care e.g. at 10 a.m. The VA’s goal is to provide that service within 24 hours, NOT close of business on the same day veterans called.

Ultra-sound Services and Holter-monitor
Ultra-sound services have been reduced from 2 days a week to just 1 until staffing improves at Audie. Ms. Hoge explained that the CT technician will be attending training in San Antonio for one week as there is a new CT unit being installed at Kerrville later this summer. Additionally, the technician has limited access to more complex CT exams at Kerrville, she needs experience with these exams in volume at Audie. The replacement for Deanna, x-ray tech, who retires in December will also be able to do CT’s. This will provide better coverage overall.
KVAMC is not in danger of losing the Holter-monitor service. STVHCS is moving toward a new contract for disposable Holter monitors. The contract is pending an approval process/submission.

Vicki Marsh requested that simple signage for the Patient Advocate be placed in prominent places throughout KVAMC e.g. the lab, the elevators and waiting rooms, etc.,to ensure Veterans don’t leave KVAMC without having their concerns addressed. While Ms. Hoge had some reservations in part because the patient advocate function has been consolidated at Audie but also most tissues that she and Terry receive can be addressed via their teams e.g. renewal of medication prescriptions.
Ms. Marsh also requested the list of services available at KVAMC.  Services seem to come & go without notice. The most recent example is the Vision Impairment Service Team which now come to KVAMC’s eye clinic twice monthly.  A recent alphabetized list is available on KVAMC’s portion of www.southtexas.va.gov.

Patient Access Data
Vicki Marsh stated that at a stakeholders meeting last year, HCVC was told that this data could NOT be broken down beyond the STVHCS level.  While that may have been true then, it isn’t now. Thus we would like to know how KVAMC is doing.  HCVC requested this data be provided at the Stakeholder’s Meeting but at the July meeting it was still shown at the STVHC level. HCVC wants the data to evaluate the need for a recruiting drive to sign up patients for KVAMC.

Signage under TX Department of Transportation (DOT) on Highways
STVHCS still refers to Kerrville VA Hospital (not Medical Center) on its website, www.southtexas.va.gov This has halted our efforts to get TX DOT to change the signage to reflect KVA’s status as Medical Center. Our concern is that Veterans traveling through the area will see the signs and think that they can receive emergency care at KVAMC. This will only delay emergency care as KVAMC has no emergency room.

Inviting Local Media to Tour KVAMC
Previously, KVAMC and STVHCS Strategic Communications personnel had planned to do this when the portico (overhead structure at basement entrance) was completed.  Due to personnel moves this has not happened.  HCVC feels this is important because it would show that KVAMC is not only intact but also growing—e.g. regional pharmacy.  The fact that the renovations mirror those @ Audie demonstrates that there is no plan to close or decrease services @ KVAMC.  As tax-payers, the public has a vested interest in KVAMC and takes proprietary view of it which is a good thing.  
Next Meeting: Address status, staffing and funding of wound clinic. Currently open 2 days per week—Wed. and Fri. Requires consult.



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