- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I need help and advice, I am three months in remission and have had chemo with Rituxan five times since my diagnose of ischemic heart disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 2001. I was not in Vietnam but in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1973 and the U.S. Air Force from 1973 to 1979. I was stationed at U.S. Army Fort Dix in N.J., U.S. Air Force Base Mather in California and Keesler AFB Biloxi in Miss.

I have uncovered that these three military sites were exposed to Agent Orange as well as other chemicals. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

N.O.B.,
Via the Internet


Dear N.O.B.:

Many veterans claim to be affected by an Agent Orange-related disease, but if the sites where they were stationed or deployed to aren’t recognized by the VA, they may have a rough road ahead of them. The VA will assist in identifying locations outside of Vietnam where AO was stored. You should contact the Environmental Health Coordinator for your state. Contact information is available from the VA here: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/coordinators.asp.

Shaft notes

• Kudos to the 19 Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities from across the nation that were recently recognized by The Joint Commission as top performers on key health care quality measures for 2011-2012.

“We at VA are very pleased with The Joint Commission recognition. We are proud of the medical facilities that made this list, proving VA’s commitment to providing the high-quality care our veterans have earned through their service,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. “This achievement demonstrates the hard work that each and every VA medical staff member undertakes to serve veterans.”

While all 152 VA medical facilities are accredited by The Joint Commission, the list recognizes facilities that are the top performers based on The Joint Commission’s review of evidence-based care processes that are closely linked to positive patient outcomes. Three new accountability measure sets are included in the calculation for this year’s Top Performers program: stroke, venous thromboembolism and inpatient psychiatric services. This year’s program recognizes Joint Commission-accredited hospitals for a significant achievement in accountability measure performance. Eight VA facilities have received the Top Performer status for two consecutive years — a noteworthy distinction.

“VA health care has been a leader in performance measurement, electronic health records, research and clinical quality for more than a decade,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel. “I am proud of the staff and I fully expect to see more VA medical facilities making this list next year.”

The Top Performers on The Joint Commission Quality Measures for 2012 announced its “Improving America’s Hospitals” annual report recognizing hospitals to national and trade media. Top Performers include the following Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities:

— Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, Tuscaloosa, Ala.;
— VA Long Beach Health Care System, Long Beach, Calif.;
— Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Grand Junction, Colo.;
— * VA Medical Center, Wilmington, Del.;
— * Boise VA Medical Center, Boise, Idaho;
— *Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, Ill.;
— Robley Rex Medical Center, Louisville. Ky.;
— * Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center, Iron Mountain, Mich.;
— * Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center, Saginaw, Mich.;
— * VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, Biloxi, Miss.;
— Samuel S. Stratton VA Medical Center, Albany, N.Y.;
— VA Hudson Valley Health Care System, Montrose, N.Y.;
— Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, Ore.;
— * Erie VA Medical Center, Erie, Pa.;
— * William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center, Columbia, S.C.;
— Memphis VA Medical Center, Memphis, Tenn.;
— VA Medical Center, White River Junction, Vt.;
— VA Medical Center, Spokane, Wash.;
— VA Medical Center, Huntington, W.Va.
[An asterisk denotes a Top Performer rating for a second year.]

In addition to being named in this report, Top Performers are highlighted at www.jointcommission.org and The Joint Commission’s Quality Check website: www.qualitycheck.org.

• Also an attaboy to Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, a long-time VA researcher often called “the father of human transplantation,” has received one of the world’s top awards for science from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.

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