Medical care for those who served is a priority for all of our communities across the Empire State. Spectrum News 1 goes inside the Syracuse facility to see how they are held accountable and the trends over the years inside the VA.
“In fact, less than half a percent of people in the United States of America have actually served in the military,” said Frank Pearson, director of Syracuse VA Medical Center. “We are here to serve them.
Within the veteran community, horror stories of long waits, inaccessibility and more were the calling card of medical care. The Syracuse Center and many others across the country are working to change that.
“And here we have 14 different teams of what we call primary care teams. So, so their home around here too,” Pearson said.
The goal is for the region’s 50,000 veterans and millions across the United States to be able to maintain medical care instead of waiting for something to go wrong.
“The beauty of this is that patients see the same provider every visit,” Pearson said. “So they have their own providers and you know the providers really get to know the patients.”
The referral and education center – which spends its days reaching out to those who come for treatment – promotes the “Million Veteran Program” to drive improved care for those who have served.
“So what happens is when we get veterans coming to the VA, we ask them if they’ll be on this whole project is designed for veterans to help veterans and we get so powerful, very powerful information,” Person said.
Veterinarians have several ways to contribute to improving their stays. Pearson praises the Salt City’s 80% ranking in a nationwide comparison of weekly patient surveys, or “trust scores.”
“So that’s a big metric that the VA is looking at,” Pearson added. “Because our veterans have, as we’ve talked about before, there have been trust issues with the Veterans Administration in the past.”
It’s a big hill to climb, but many across the VA believe in the progress being made.
“I think you’ve seen over the last decade, a big, big focus on veteran care. You saw the advent of the law of choice and then the mission law giving veterans a lot of choices and where they can get care, of course we want the VA in Syracuse to be our number one priority “, Pearson said. “And so we work really hard to make sure we do that.”
Quality of care can be reflected in veterans’ attitudes toward hospitals, clinics, and outpatient centers.
“Veterans are now going to reach out where they didn’t necessarily have to before,” he said.
And the VA continues to move forward with improvements.
“We are here to serve. Access is our top priority. With quality of care,” Pearson said.
The Syracuse VA serves more than 50,000 veterans in the area alone. They also have a state-of-the-art spinal care center which is a specialty center used by veterans from across the state and even neighboring ones.