I’m sitting on the 6th floor of the Atlanta VA medical center and as I look out the window I see a marvelous expanse of gray sky, rain, and a parking garage. OK, so it is not nearly as exotic as some of the other locations but we are here and doing exciting things also.
We’ve worked closely with Nurse Executives, Nurse Managers, the VA Quality Scholars, and many in the QI organization. We participated in leadership meetings, a mock Joint Commission inspection, and have learned about the VA Quality methodology. The six of us are working on four different projects and I’ll the others talk about their part. Jonathan and I are working on an Excel file that captures survey data for the Medical Specialty Outpatient group. The file then presents the results using green-yellow-red indicators based on numerical results of the survey. It may sound complicated but it is actually pretty straightforward.
I don’t spend much time with the veterans doing patient care but I do get to talk with them in the halls and elevators. Every day I walk through a hallway decorated with frames that contain pictures of former POWs and a little bit of their story. There is another hall that has pictures of men and women who once lived in the Community Living Center that is attached to the VA hospital. The physicians, nurses, and support staff all seem to straighten up and lighten up a little when they are talking with a veteran. Despite the headlines and the inanities of the bureaucratic system there are many here who clearly enjoy their work.
I’ve very much enjoyed being in Atlanta over the past days: I’ve spent time with my family including all three kids and Mom came in from Houston. We ran the Strong4Life Superhero Sprint in Piedmont Park. I’ve worked a few shifts and I have basically enjoyed sleeping in my own bed. As a group we’ve gone to eat at Community Q BBQ (twice – we went on Tuesday just to get the “Rooben”) and we ate at Sobban last Friday.
I think that I have learned a lot about the VA, about the health care that they deliver, and the people who are on the front lines of that delivery. This immersion has changed my perspective of the VA and the people who work here.