New veterans survey showing steady progress in quality of VA service across Missouri

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JOHN COCHRAN VA Medical Center in St. Louis. – Jim Salter/AP photo

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill released five new regional reports recently showing veterans in Missouri have seen steady progress in the quality of their service at local Veterans Administration (VA) medical facilities.

McCaskill announced the survey results at a May 25 press conference in St. Louis at the Korean War Memorial in Forest Park.

“Working to ensure Missouri’s veterans who have sacrificed so much receive the quality care and benefits they’ve earned is a sacred duty — and one I’ll always fight to uphold,” said McCaskill, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“It’s critical for me to hear directly from veterans about what’s going right and what we need to keep working on,” she said. “I’m proud that in the last seven years we’ve seen steady progress across the state, so our veterans are able to get appointments quicker and receive care more efficiently — but we’ve also seen there’s more work to be done to ensure our VA facilities are properly staffed and adequately funded.”

VETERAN ‘SECRET SHOPPER’ PROGRAM

McCaskill’s veteran “secret shopper” program, known as the Veterans’ Customer Satisfaction Program, launched in 2011 amid reports of problems with medical care at John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis. The survey is active in five regions: Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, and Poplar Bluff — and allows veterans to share timely, confidential feedback about their VA health care visits, and helps provide oversight and accountability for VA health care facilities.

The reports reflect generally positive input gathered over the course of the past year from Missouri veterans, chronicling everything from customer service and quality of care, to detailed recommendations for the VA on ways to improve the health care experiences at all VA medical facilities. The past year’s round of surveys received nearly 1,200 responses.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key takeaways from this year’s survey include:

  • St. Louis: When the VCSP started seven years ago, confidence in St. Louis VA facilities was low and satisfaction levels demonstrated several areas in need of improvement. This year’s report continued the positive trend from the past four reporting cycles, showing consistent and steady improvement in many areas, including cleanliness and wait times.
  • Columbia: Veterans in the region continue to report very high levels of satisfaction across every category, including positive satisfaction levels exceeding 80 percent in three key categories: ease of access, cleanliness, and respect.
  • Kansas City: Veteran’s reports were generally positive, with nearly 75 percent of respondents reporting stable, strong satisfaction in regards to receiving necessary care and wait times to see providers. Although there were some areas of decline since last year’s report, veterans’ overall satisfaction remained strong.
  • Poplar Bluff: Veterans expressed the most widespread satisfaction among all statewide veterans, with across-the-board increases in every category — including a 12 percent improvement in scheduling of appointments and 13 percent increase in overall experience.
  • Southwest Missouri (Fayetteville): Veterans reported satisfaction levels that exceeded 78 percent in nine out of 10 categories. Veterans reported greater ease with scheduling their appointments, but a decrease in satisfaction with ease of access.

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