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National VA secretary visits, lauds Palo Alto facility

Original post made on Aug 21, 2014

As part of a weeks-long trip across the country, the newly confirmed secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, visited the Palo Alto VA Medical Center Wednesday and called it a standard-setting "crown jewel" within the troubled health care system.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 4:13 PM

Comments (17)

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Posted by GreenAcres
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 21, 2014 at 8:36 am

This reads like a press release issued by the Palo Alto VA. The only info here is that the Proctor and Gamble marketing guy called it the crown jewel, and that there's a whistleblower who disagrees. This article needs more metrics so the reader cam understand if PA VA performance is really outstanding. For example, how does this VA compare to others in caseload, staffing, and throughput, patient satisfaction and costs. The story about the visiting vet from new jersey is just an anecdote. At the least the author should link to other work assessing real performance. This is publicity, not reporting.


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Posted by John Thomas-Whitcomb Mccoy
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

The VA system in Menlo Park and Palo Alto have taken hits throughout the decades and the national VA system has been considered a JOKE for many decades and by veterans themselves! Veteran friends of the family have consistently made unfortunate jokes about the 'damned VA' either taking far too long for a appointment or the the 'sub par' medical care to the point the the veteran deciding never to go back. I am NOT making this up just growing up in Palo Alto one constantly heard verbal shots being taken at the VA and their POOR performance. So this has NOTHING to do with the current President nor his cabinet, it is endemic to the system and nothing more. This finger pointing by all of the politicos at each other is nothing but cheap attempts at vote gathering! They all have themselves to blame for the disgusting conditions within the VA today!


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Posted by John Thomas-Whitcomb McCoy
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2014 at 11:04 am

BTW and FYI I am the eldest Grandson to Charles C. and (Mary) Edith Thomas and eldest son of their daughter Virginia McCoy nee Thomas, Paly graduate '41. They built the existing home now addressed at 1454 Dana Avenue in the mid nineteen thirties for the sum of $6k. When built the address for their home in that section of Crescent Park was 454 Dana.

Thank you.


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Posted by A-Veteran
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

> This finger pointing by all of the politicos at each other is nothing but
> cheap attempts at vote gathering! They all have themselves to blame
> for the disgusting conditions within the VA today!

This is very true. But the voters—meaning you and me—keep sending these same people back to Washington, year after year. How many of us demand any kind of accounting from the Anna Eshoos and Jackie Speiers as to where the 3 trillion dollars in this year's budget will be spent, and what kinds of results we should expect from this incredible amount of money entrusted to people like these two.

Shouldn't we be looking more deeply into their actions, rather than at their shiny faces, or their expensive clothes, when they make their infrequent visits to our communities, and ask: "how many veterans died this year, waiting for VA care?" If they can't answer, or won't answer—why are we going to give them our votes, and return them to Congress.


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Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 21, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Palo Alto VA took very good care of my dad.


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Posted by Vote red white and BLUE
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm

All those complaining about the VA need to start voting Democratic. It's the republicans that keep slashing VA budgets (see February's vote.)

Even Bernie Sanders and McCain's bill got slashed this last month, by at least 5 billion, iirc.


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Posted by Vote red white and BLUE
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm

You can't go into our two longest wars, create thousands of new veterans, and expect to cut budgets and save money on the back of new veterans - if they VOTE.


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Posted by member
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I want to say that many years ago my father, who was a WW! vet, had excellent treatment at the PA Veterans Hospital,
and that my brother-in-law, a WW!! veteran also had good care and we had no complaints about the service each of them received. Unfortunately, the shift has gone to we must take care of the Illegals, food, education, medical attention etc. Since there is only so much money to go around, it is used by our politicians (both parties) to appeal to the most people AND WE KEEP VOTING THEM IN!!! I quite agree with the person who wrote that it is up to us to get honest people in office who want to help ALL OUR NEEDY and this includes the Elderly and Homeless.

When we vote, we should vote out the entrenched and get intelligent new blood who might think carefully of what the lobbyist really wants and what he is paying to vote for.


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Posted by EJ
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I am at the palo alto va right now in the exam room waiting for the dr to show up. Running 9 minutes late. Ill see how late she ends up. I just started treating with the va recently and have had a mixed experience. There is a definite need for training for the scheduling staff. To that I can attest. The care I have received so far has been decent and I haven't had any crazy waits. I am supposed to be setup for a sleep study myself. In September I have to sit through an hour long presentation and then I gues I join that Long list.

Ok done typing and doctor is now 16 minutes late. Zzz


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Posted by A-Veteran
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm

> You can't go into our two longest wars, create thousands of new veterans,
> and expect to cut budgets and save money on the back of new veterans

This statement is not particularly true. For starters, the VA Medical budget has almost doubled in the past ten years. The most recent VA spending bill has increased the spending for private-sector care by many billions of dollars.

> new veterans ..

The following is from the 2012 Annual Report from the PA VA:

VAPAHCS Enrolled Veteran Patients
World War II.....9%
Korean War Era..15%
Vietnam War Era.59%
OEF/OIF/OND Era..8%
Other............9%

As you can see--the bulk of the Vets treated in the local VA Medical Center are Vietnam Vets.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 21, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I have been a PA VA patient for twelve years. Due to my service connected illness I am seen 3-4 times a year.
I receive excellent care, the staff is very competent and thoughtful and they have never been late for an appointment.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by NavyVet
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2014 at 7:36 am

The key issue in this story is how Mr. McDonald will handle Mr. Kallio's situation, as it will demonstrate whether or not VA's culture is changing. Will Mr. McDonald take any action against Ms. Freeman for the retaliation against Mr. Kallio? Will Mr. McDonald live up to his word that whistleblowers should be rewarded and not attacked? Potential whistleblowers will continue to remain quiet (and unlawful or inappropriate actions will continue to occur) until VA's leadership demonstrates that blowing the whistle will not ruin the whistleblower's career.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 8:46 am

A big thank you to all of the thread respondents who have served our country!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Wilson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2014 at 9:27 am

> Will Mr. McDonald live up to his word that whistleblowers
> should be rewarded and not attacked?
Agreed.

A goodly number of people have come forward in the past few months to report on problems in their hospitals. It is important that all of these cases are resolved, and the outcomes publicized.

Pressing this point a bit--it would be a real win if the new Sec. of VA would create a more open method for people to report problems within their work units that got visibility beyond their immediate management. No organization is perfect, so creating an environment where problems can be openly discused, and hopefully solved locally, would be better than mess that is currently festering in some VA hospitals.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm

The VA Palo Alto needs to be investigated just like any other VA. It should not be labeled a jewel. It has received more money for bldg. expansion than any other VA, The campus is in a beautiful area and the buildings are shiny and new. This should not mean it gets a free pass by the leaders and politicians. One day it is decried and the next day it is lauded,depending on the politician. Leaders should not be making sweeping statements. What was the outcome of the Livermore audit and pharmacy whistleblower claim? The public deserves an answer.


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Posted by The Devil Lives In The Details
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2014 at 8:59 am

The following link says it all about Anna Eshoo's election year pandering to veterans in her district, and the public in general—

Apple's Tim Cook Visits VA Hospital With Anna Eshoo:
Web Link

It's not surprising that a highly visible Silicon Valley CEO get a photo-op, with the new leader of the VA—himself a former CEO of a globally known consumer retailing outfit. Of the three, Cook/McDonald/Eshoo, none have any medical background, which the VA has been shown to be failing to deliver in many cases. So--where are the doctors that make the Palo Alto VA such a good place to seek medical care? Why aren't they speaking to the key issues, as they see them?

It makes sense that the new Secretary make visits to the high-profile hospitals in the VA system. This article does not mention if McDonald will be visiting the Phoenix hospital during his current tour, however. One does has to wonder if this trip was at the request of local Congressional representatives—promoting Silicon Valley products, and the bids for re-election by the current office holders, rather than for the benefit of the veterans/staff of the Palo Alto VA Medical Care facility?

On the plus side, McDonald does seem to be saying many of the right things that need to be said. But as we all know—talk is cheap. It takes money to ride the train. Some of the problems facing the VA system can be solved by firing the individuals who created the problems, or tolerated them to exist. To date, the chief Administrator of the Phoenix VA Hospital has not been fired, but still on paid administrative leave.

Only time will tell. Let's hope that the new Secretary is not just on board for a year or two--disappears as soon as the Obama train wreck has cleared the station on its way to the dust bins of history.


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Posted by Frank
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm

My experience at the Palo Alto VA ranged from atrocious to good. I was prescribed tricyclic anti-depressants for tension headaches. The side effects almost killed me according to the emergency physician. The good experience was with a colonoscopy. The staff in that section of the hospital were excellent.


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