Officials with the Mississippi veteran's healthcare system say they provide care to 42,000 veterans but thousands are still not signed-up. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, they hope a new nationwide initiative will help.
Officials with Mississippi's G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson say they are competing with other hospitals across the state to serve veterans. Medical Center Director Dr. David Walker says, many who've recently served aren't coming in for care.
"The young men and women from Iraq and Afghanistan are not joining veteran service organizations and that used to be a main way for us to get Veterans from the American Legion, VFW,(Veterans of Foreign Wards) DAV (Disabled American Veterans)," said Walker.
The Jackson VA medical center has added a new link to it's website homepage called "Compare Your VA Facility." People can review "wait times," "quality of care" and "veterans satisfaction." Users can also see how the state's VA medical centers in Jackson and Biloxi stack-up to hospitals statewide. Walker hopes the transparency will build faith in their facilities.
"We want you to know how we're doing and if there are things in here were not doing, then I'm accountable for explaining what we're doing to make them better. That's how you gain the trust of the veteran," said Walker.
Walker says they do well with primary and preventive care--screenings and treatments for diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers. But the Jackson facility ranked 22 out of 25 hospitals in the state for controlling a stomach infection that can be contracted while hospitalized. Chief of Staff Dr. Susan Roberts says they are seeing improvement.
"The number of infections have decreased by about half in the last year and so we're down quite a bit
and we continue to show improvement in that area," said Roberts.
Veterans can also view on the website ratings of VA medical centers nationwide. Visit https://www.jackson.va.gov/