Showing posts with label Montana VA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Montana VA. Show all posts

Saturday, April 28, 2012

10,000 new patients with PTSD checking in at VA every three months

Montana poised to benefit from increase in VA mental health staff
April 26, 2012

At a time when the VA Montana Health Care System is struggling to recruit psychiatrists to treat veterans with mental health problems, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced an immediate, nearly 10 percent increase in mental health staffing across the country.

VA Montana has not yet been told how many new staff members it will receive or the specific type of mental health professionals it will receive, but VA officials are heralding the notification.

Some 1,600 mental health clinicians, including nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, as well as nearly 300 support staffers, will be added to the existing mental health workforce of 20,590. The expanded mental-health services will include professionals from two additional health care fields: marriage and family therapists and licensed professional mental health counselors.

The infusion of mental health professionals coincides with the scores of men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The VA currently treats 1.3 million veterans for mental health problems, including an estimated 400,000 who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 2007, VA has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving mental health services. There are 10,000 new patients with PTSD checking in at hospitals every three months, according to the VA.
read more here

Friday, April 13, 2012

Montana VA director "reassigned" out of state

Montana's VA director reassigned out of state pending administrative investigation


Embattled VA Montana Director Robin Korogi has been reassigned to the VA's regional office in Denver, effective Monday.

The move is necessary "so the results from an administrative investigation board can be thoroughly reviewed and evaluated," said Anita Urdiales, executive assistant to Ralph Gigliotti, director of VA Rocky Mountain Network 19, which includes facilities in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. "Ms. Korogi will be assigned to assist with special projects at the (regional) level in the interim."

Steve Young, director of the Salt Lake City VAMC, will take over as interim director of VA Montana effective Monday.

"VA is committed to ensuring the veterans of Montana experience a smooth transition that keeps our focus on delivering the high quality health care they have earned with their service to a grateful nation," Urdiales said.

The move follows a series of Billings Gazette stories investigating Korogi's inability to recruit inpatient psychiatrists for the new acute psychiatric wing of the $7 million, 24,000-square-foot inpatient mental health facility at Fort Harrison.

As a result, the eight-bed wing remains unopened, forcing some veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or military sexual trauma to travel out of state for treatment.
read more here

Friday, March 9, 2012

Former VA Montana managers calling on Director Korogi to resign

Former VA Montana managers calling on Director Korogi to resign

Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

At least four former high-level managers in the VA Montana Health Care System, including a former human resources director, attorney, physician and facilities manager, are calling for Director Robin Korogi to resign immediately because she has created an acrimonious work environment, jeopardized patient safety and subjected VA Montana to lawsuits.

"She has to go," said Charlie Hail, who worked as an attorney for the VA for 21 years.

"Absolutely. No questions asked. She continues to fire people without cause and is opening up the VA to litigation."

The chorus of voices calling for Korogi's resignation comes on the heels of a Billings Gazette article published Sunday focusing on why VA Montana has failed in recruiting in-patient psychiatrists to staff a mental health facility at Fort Harrison. The eight-bed acute-care wing has not been in operation since the $7 million facility was opened in June 2011. Current and former employees say the toxic work environment makes it impossible to recruit psychiatrists to the facility, and they hold Korogi responsible.

The situation has become so dire that it was a subject on Capitol Hill last week when U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the state's only member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, brought it to the attention of VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and VA Undersecretary for Health Robert Petzel.
read more here

Sunday, March 4, 2012

VA director, shortage of psychiatrists blamed for Montana's veterans suffering

VA director, shortage of psychiatrists blamed for unit not opening at Fort Harrison

Stories by CINDY UKEN
Posted: Sunday, March 4, 2012

Montana veterans traumatized by their service and in need of acute inpatient psychiatric treatment for problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or military sexual trauma must travel hundreds of miles out of state for help.

In the meantime, the acute psychiatric wing of the $7 million, 24,000-square-foot inpatient mental health facility at Fort Harrison, which was announced with great fanfare in June 2011, sits empty.

The VA Montana Health Care System has been unable to recruit three full-time psychiatrists to staff the eight-bed wing around the clock.

The remaining 16 beds in the mental health facility near Helena were designed for veterans dealing with substance abuse and less severe PTSD patients. The eight-bed wing for substance abusers has also remained empty due to a lack of staffing. It is scheduled to open for the first time this week.

The staffing problem means some of the sickest veterans in the state must travel to Wyoming, Florida, California, Utah, Idaho or elsewhere to get help.
read more here

Friday, September 9, 2011

Montana VA stresses suicide prevention without a full time psychiatrist?

Montana VA stresses suicide prevention, awareness
Posted: Sep 8, 2011 4:48 PM by Melissa Anderson (Helena)

This is Suicide Prevention Week, and the suicide rate among veterans is reported to be two times higher than the civilian population.

Registered nurse Kellie LaFave of the Montana VA in Helena explained, "Veterans are at greater risk because they're exposed to such extremes and where they do their service. They may be injured physically or emotionally. They may be suffering from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress syndrome. "

That's why the VA has stressed mental health as a key priority in its healthcare system.

The VA Montana system recently added the 24,000 square foot mental health facility that will house up to 24 veterans.

The PTSD program, which opened in July, is set up in six week outpatient sessions.

While the VA awaits hiring a full time psychiatrist, they are not taking inpatients at this time. However, veterans can still be referred.
read more here

Saturday, August 6, 2011

300 Montana veterans waiting for VA to hire orthopedic surgeon?

300 Montana veterans wait for orthopedic surgery as VA tries to recruit surgeon

By CINDY UKEN Of The Gazette Staff
Posted: Saturday, August 6, 2011

At least 300 Montana veterans who need orthopedic surgery are on a waiting list while the Department of Veterans Affairs Montana Health Care System works to recruit a full-time surgeon to help ease the growing backlog of disabled — and often disgruntled — veterans.

To receive surgery, Montana veterans without private insurance must travel out of state for care or pay for it out of their pockets. To compound this problem, Montana veterans are being told that the VA facilities in Denver and Salt Lake City are too busy to accept Montana patients.

Subsequently, they are being placed on a waiting list that is approaching two years.

Read more: 300 Montana veterans wait for orthopedic surgery

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Montana PTSD Vets won't have to leave state for care

Groundbreaking marks VA mental-health center

MARTIN KIDSTON Independent Record
Posted: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FORT HARRISON — Gripping golden shovels, a team of health care providers broke ground Tuesday on a $6.7 million facility that will allow veterans to receive long-term mental-health care without having to leave Montana.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat and member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, joined the team of doctors and directors on the grounds of the VA hospital, opening a chapter of care that officials say will greatly improve the mental-health needs of Montana’s vets.

“By doing this, we’ll be taking a few important steps in fulfilling the promises made to Montana’s and America’s veterans,” Tester said. “Access to quality health care, no matter where you live, is important.”

Under the current system of treatment, Montana veterans needing inpatient psychological care for post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse or depression must travel to Idaho, Wyoming or North Dakota.

While the new 24-bed, 24,000-square-foot facility won’t open until the spring of 2011, the anticipation is already great, and the treatment center, officials said, is long overdue.

Dr. Rosa Merino, chief of behavioral health with the VA Montana Health Care System, said the risk for chronic PTSD increases greatly with the intensity and length of combat.
read more here
Groundbreaking marks VA mentalhealth center

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

VA 'Quack' Scandal in Montana Worst Yet

Special Report: Are the 11 Montana VA Deaths Murder?
Gordon Duff Special to
VA 'Quack' Scandal in Montana Worst Yet.

(CLEVELAND, Ohio ) - When a whistleblower brought records of 28 veterans who were undiagnosed and untreated to VA authorities in Montana, he was threatened, bullied and abused. No surprise here. When forced to investigate, the hospital quickly found all claims were false.

The doctor's name is secret. We assume he is a radiologist. He treated 5800 patients, some are known to have died. Was this simple "malpractice" or a pattern of criminal behavior that may have led to the deaths of many Montana veterans?

Examining the VA Inspector Generals report, we now understand more. Not only did this doctor falsify medical records, he failed to diagnose and treat countless patients. He falsified records showing false diagnoses and treatments. It is extremely unlikely that many patients didn't die because of these actions.
read more here
Are the 11 Montana VA Deaths Murder

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Senator Tester, fix Montana's VA problem sooner

Tester, VA chief hear from veterans
Agency chief says help is on way; senator, vets tell of inadequate services
Of The Gazette Staff

Limited by staff and space, veterans' health care services in Montana fall short, said U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who brought U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake to Billings to meet with local veterans.

"What I'm getting at is the staff and the square footage is a big issue," Tester said Wednesday. "That's not just here. It's the same in Great Falls and other places."

Tester and Peake got a firsthand look at the tight cramped quarters of the Veterans Affairs Primary Care Center in Billings. Roughly a decade old, the facility at 2345 King Ave. W. is no longer big enough to accommodate services for Billings-area veterans. Plans to relocate to a larger facility are in the works, but the VA Primary Care Center is also short on staff members.

Veterans speaking to Tester and Peake said phone calls to the VA Primary Care Center sometimes go unanswered for half an hour. Getting in to see a counselor about war-related stress can take days.

There's a debate about how many claims will still be made by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration estimates that 33,690 new veterans will enter the system, but the majority of staff for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, on which Tester serves, expects 200,000 claims by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

If the committee is correct, the president's budgeted amount for new claims could leave funding short for about 150,000 veterans.
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With the problem veterans are having trying to get fit into the VA, buying land and building new hospitals and clinics will help, but that fix is years away. They need help today.

A quick search of commercial property in Billings Montana showed they not only have land that could be used in the future, but they also have buildings already available. Some of them seem to be a great deal. These are just a few of them.

Property Description:
Prime West End Office Building
2 story building with approx. 26,000 SQFT. Brick construction complex built in 1986 and remodeled in 1999. Located in approx. 66,000 SQFT landscaped and paved lot. The building has 25,825 SQFT. Excellent exposure to one of busiest avenues in Billings - King Avenue.

Location Description:
Located in the Homestead Business Park - Billings MT. A block from King Ave. on Grant Rd.
Property Use Type: Investment
Primary Type: Office
Office-Business Park
Building Size: 26,000 SF
Lot Size: 66,000 SF
Price: $3,200,000
Price/SF: $123.08
Cap Rate: 7.25%
Net Lease Investment: Yes
Years left on Lease: 2
Date Last Verified: 2/22/2008
Property ID: 15530183

Special Purpose Property
In or near Billings, MontanaVery solid 5,040 sq. ft. Commercial Construction. Scenic Spring Creek runs through property, mature trees, an oasis in the middle of Billings. Pe...
Status:Price:Bldg. Size:Cap Rate:Primary Type:Sub-Type:
Active$425,0005,040 SFN/ASpecial PurposeSpecial Purpose (Other)

Special Purpose Property
In or near Billings, MontanaSignificant, historical, brick building, with 7,025 sq. ft. on main level. Structurally astute, constructed of high quaility building materials, 7...
Status:Price:Bldg. Size:Cap Rate:Primary Type:Sub-Type:
Active$385,00014,050 SFN/ASpecial PurposeSpecial Purpose (Other)

Office Property
In or near Billings, Montana
Two 9,000 square foot buildings. Upscale Medical or office complex. 13,300 ADT's Per Day. Billings Highest Per Capita Income. Now Under Constru...
Status:No. Spaces:Rental Rate:Space Available:Bldg. Size:Primary Type:Sub-Type:
Active1$.012,800 SF9,000 SFOfficeMedical Office

Now, picture these buildings being used for veterans clinics and Vet's Centers. They seem to be just what the doctor ordered to take care of the veterans today and not just years from now. They could open up Vet Centers tomorrow. They could begin support groups for veterans and their families. If not then they will need to build a lot more homeless veterans shelters a couple of years from now. It's time to get serious about all of this and stop ringing their hands with the monumental task ahead. There is no time to play catch up when veterans are suffering because no one planned for them.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mental health treatment for Montana vets lags behind nation

Statistics contradict praise of mental health programs Mental health treatment for Montana vets lags behind nation
McClatchy Newspapers
McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, took officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs to an auditorium at the Montana State University-College of Technology campus in Great Falls last summer to talk about the best way to provide health care to veterans in the region's vast rural areas.

The director of the VA region that includes Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming detailed all that the agency was doing to provide for veterans' health needs — physical and mental.

"Comprehensive mental-health care is one of the top priorities for Network 19," Glen Grippen said, referring to the multi-state Rocky Mountain region. He said that mental health staff had been added recently, specifically for treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

Each medical center now has a suicide prevention coordinator, he said, and the VA's medical centers "actively collaborate with state National Guard and Reserve components to ensure that no returning soldier slips through the cracks."
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