Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today's News

From the VA:

1.      Arlington National Cemetery To Be Run By Longtime VA Employee. The Washington Post (10/20, Davenport, 605K) reports, “Patrick K. Hallinan, who has been serving as acting superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery since an Army investigation revealed widespread problems there, has been appointed to the position permanently, Army Secretary John McHugh announced Tuesday. McHugh also said cemetery employees will begin training at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which officials said would help ensure a more professionally run cemetery and prevent some of the problems that have plagued the facility.” After noting that Hallinan has “worked for more than 30 years in…VA’s cemetery system,” the Post adds, “Last month, a bill introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) called for a study into whether authority” over Arlington “should be transferred to…VA — a move some veterans groups have said is long overdue.”

 2.      Veterans Day Program To Be Held At Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. According to the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News (10/19, Miller), the “annual Veterans Day program at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 7…in the Pennsylvania Veterans Memorial.” The “Indiantown Gap Veterans Memorial Council and Department of Pennsylvania Military Order of the Purple Heart” will sponsor the program.

 3.      Study Of VA Hospitals Finds Surgery Checklist, Team Approach Saves Lives. The AP (10/20) reports, “Answering…basic questions from surgery checklists – and involving everyone as a team, even patients – saved lives in Veterans Affairs hospitals, according to one of the most rigorous studies of patient safety in the operating room. Surgery deaths dropped 18 percent on average over three years in the 74 VA hospitals that used the strategy during the study,” which “appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.” The AP adds, “Several experts not involved in the research called the study robust and praised the findings.”
     According to HealthDay (10/20, Goodwin), study researchers “analyzed data on more than 182,000 patients who had undergone surgery at 108 Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 2006 and 2008. Of those hospitals, 74 had implemented” a “Medical Team Training program, using error-reducing techniques borrowed from the aviation industry” and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). HealthDay notes, “After one year, deaths at facilities that had implemented the training program fell by 18 percent, compared to 7 percent at hospitals that had not yet gone through the training.”
     In a blog called “The Chart,” the CNN (10/19) website reported, “Dr. James Bagian, a study author and former NASA astronaut, said the VA training took a page from the aviation and the nuclear power industries, which have used checklists and improved communication to reduce risks.” CNN added, “Since mid 2009, all VA hospitals have adopted surgical team training, said Bagian.”
     The study is also noted by Voice Of America (10/20), MedPage Today (10/20, Phend), the “Booster Shots” blog for the Los Angeles Times (10/20, Stein), and AOL News (10/20, Drummond), which says study researchers, “led by experts” at VA, “zeroed in on the effect” of a VA Medical Team Training program that “educates entire groups of surgical staffers — including surgeons, nurse anesthetists and other technicians — to improve surgical outcomes. The training is inspired by advances in aviation safety, where pilots need to embrace teamwork — most notably, input from co-pilots — to earn their wings.”

4.      VA Doctor Leads Study On Treatment Of Chronic Kidney Disease Patients. Renal & Urology News (10/20, Charnow) reports, “Phosphate-binder therapy is associated with reduced mortality in men with non-dialysis-dependent CKD, a study found.” The study of chronic kidney disease patients was “led by Csaba P. Kovesdy, MD,” who works at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Virginia.

5.      Justice Grant Helps Pave Way For Veterans Court In Ohio. According to the Youngstown (OH) Vindicator (10/19, 52K), Judge Robert P. Milich of “Youngstown Municipal Court and a Veterans’ Treatment Court team have completed a training program in preparation for establishing a veteran’s court” in Youngstown. The team was “one of…10 groups from the United States in training in Buffalo, N.Y., in a program provided with the help of a grant” from the US Department of Justice, in “collaboration with the National Drug Court Institute. Buffalo is the site of the first veterans’ treatment court in the nation, established in 2008.”

6.      Grant Will Allow DAV Offices In Colorado To Stay Open. In continuing coverage, the KOAA-TV Colorado Springs, CO (10/19, Thaxton) said the “Disabled American Veterans office in Colorado Springs is not closing, contrary to a fast-spreading rumor that was originally based on factual information.” Michael Terry, “executive director of the DAV Department of Colorado, says the announced closures of the Colorado Springs, Denver, and Grand Junction offices operated by the Department of Colorado, were the result of an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 budget shortfall.” Terry “says the DAV has applied for a $500,000 annual grant at the national level, which will now keep the Colorado Springs, Denver, and Grand Junction offices open.”

7.      Baker: Single Integrated EHR System Not Only Option For VA, DOD. Federal Computer Week (10/15, Lipowicz, 90K) noted, “The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are considering creating a joint electronic health record (EHR) system as one of many options, a top VA official said” during a conference call held last week with reporters. Baker, “VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology,” told the reporters that a “single integrated system ‘is an option that both agencies would consider, but it is not the only option” for agencies that have different needs, populations and locations to consider.

8.      Congressional Review Period Nearing End For Expanded Agent Orange Health Problems List. The Muncie-based Times Of Northwest Indiana (10/20, 86K) says the US Department of Veterans Affairs has “expanded the list for health problems related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures to include Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart disease and all chronic B cell leukemias. A 60-day Congressional review period of the expanded” health problems “list is nearly complete, meaning the regulation will likely be implemented shortly.”

9.      City Council Rejects Plan To Move Medal Of Honor Winner’s Remains. According to the AP (10/19), the city of Ventura, California, has “thwarted plans to move a Medal of Honor soldier’s remains from Ventura’s 7-acre dog park to the national cemetery in Bakersfield. The Ventura County Star says the City Council voted 6-1 on Monday night to reject a request to exhume the remains of Pvt. James Sumner, saying he’s an integral to the city’s history and should stay as the city works to honor the 3,000 people buried at the downtown cemetery-turned-dog park.” The AP notes that Sumner, a “1860s Army hero awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during an Indian battle,” is buried at the “former St. Mary’s Cemetery, which is now called Cemetery Memorial Park.”

10.    VA Hospital To Host Women Veterans Night. The Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion (10/19) noted that on Friday, the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center “will host a Women Veterans Night.” The event aims to “provide health care information to female veterans who are not enrolled for care through” VA.

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