Portland's VA Hospital leaders discuss improvements to patient c - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland's VA Hospital leaders discuss improvements to patient care

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It's been more than a year since news broke about Veterans dying while waiting for treatment at VA hospitals around the country.

Now, Portland's VA hospital is highlighting change it's made since the scandal.

Portland's VA Hospital was not the focus of the national problems. But administrators said they still learned lessons to improve patient care.

On Wednesday, VA Hospital leaders, doctors and Veterans came together to talk about changes made since news of the scandal broke last year.

Dozens of Veterans died while waiting for treatment at VA Hospitals in Phoenix, AZ and that news revealed similar holes in the operation nation wide.

Since March 2013, VA officials say they've reduced the case backlog by 82 percent. Locally, doctors said they've done that by offering colon cancer and dermatology home test kits.

Lawmakers have also extended the time frame for vets to seek certain kinds of treatment and four months ago, a Veteran family advisory board was created in Portland.

The advisory board gives vets and their families a platform to state concerns and make suggestions.

"We are going to do things. We are here to make a difference. We are here to listen, we are here to vet. We're vetting every project and every service. And we have direct access to the director and the administration. And that's pretty much unheard of," said Skip Palma, VA board chairman.

Very soon, a place called The Fisher House, housing for relatives of veterans who are in the hospital, will open in Vancouver.

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