Veterans get the opportunity to voice their opinions to the VA

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COLUMBIA - Veterans got to question administrators from the Harry S. Truman Memorial Hospital in Columbia at this quarter's town hall meeting.

The Department of Veterans Affairs started holding quarterly town hall meetings in 2014. The hospital worked with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post to host this meeting.  

The Public Affairs Officer Stephen Gaither said the meetings were put in place to engage with the veterans the hospital serves.

"It's an opportunity for us to share information with interested veterans and their family members," Gaither said. "We get feedback from them about services and care that they've received from our facility."

Hospital administrators presented the hospital rankings and construction plans to the veterans and their families in attendance. The hospital is ranked in the top 30 percent of the country for access, quality, and patient satisfaction.

"We are very proud of being ranked sixth in the country when it comes to employee satisfaction," David Isaacks, Medical Center Director, said.  "That connection and relationship that our veterans establish with their care teams, with their providers, nurses, with the administrator staff that works at the facility is only strengthened when both of those are, especially when those employees, are satisfied with taking ownership, having a real buy-in and incentive to provide the best care that they can for the veteran."

Isaacks also said he recognizes the hospital cannot provide all things at all times to veterans, so the VA has to make relationships with other health care providers.

The veterans were then able to ask questions and give comments. They could choose to either submit their questions on paper when they arrived or ask questions when the microphone was passed around.

The main issues the veterans brought up were problems with communication throughout the hospital. Tori Duncan said she spent 30 minutes on hold on the phone Wednesday, and the people are not kind when they do answer.

"It's like maybe they need a little more caffeine or something because they've been unfriendly, and it's more of an inconvenience for them to transfer you to wherever it is you need to go," Duncan said.

Other veterans mentioned problems they had getting their prescriptions.  They were told their prescriptions were ready, but the pharmacy would then send them to go see the pharmacist before they could get their prescriptions.  

Lana Zerrer, Chief of Staff, said it is policy to have counseling with the pharmacist before going on new medications. The veterans said the pharmacists were not talking to them about new medications, and they were continuously sent back and forth between the pharmacy and the pharmacists.

The administrators said they would try to get their policies across better and work on all issues that were mentioned.

The meeting was also broadcast live on Facebook.