Low Ranking For Little Rock VA Hospital

by KATV Channel 7 ([email protected]) 182 views 

Editor’s note: This news story was reported by KATV’s Jason Pederson. To view the comments section of KATV’s web story or to watch a video segment on this news story, click here.

Over the past three years the Department of Veterans Affairs has been tracking the performance of VA hospitals.

The results are not favorable for veterans served by Arkansas’ largest VA hospital.

A Wall Street Journal article published Tuesday ranks Little Rock’s VA Medical Center as one of the nation’s seven worst over the past year.

One veteran we visited with said he is not surprised.

Charlie Washington recently received a bag of syringes along with another bag of medicine vials in the mail.

He is afraid of needles and has never been taught how to use them.

“It’s not doing me any good in my hand at all,” says Washington, holding the bags. “It’s not going to do me any good until it gets in my body. It’s like a lot of things, the VA is negligent in a lot of things and this is just one of them.”

When it comes to critical care issues like mortality, infection rates and length of stay, Little Rock’s VA Hospital is one of the seven worst performing in the country according to results of a recent audit. (See list of best and worst performing below.)

A Public Affairs Officer says Little Rock treats veterans with complex medical conditions from rural areas in six surrounding states. Patients stay longer, which hurts the facility’s score. (See full statement below.)

But a big criticism of most VA hospitals is long waits for appointments.

“VA made an appointment,” recalls Washington. “And by the time it got close to that appointment, they changed the date. They changed the date twice on that appointment.”

Eventually Washington had heart surgery at St. Vincent Hospital, where a doctor decided he couldn’t wait any longer.

“The VA do have qualified physicians who can do what they should do…they just don’t do it,” says Washington.

Back to the bags of medicine and syringes mailed to Washington, the VA said patients are to bring the items to their appointments or can be taught to use them at home.

WORST PERFORMING V-A HOSPITALS (according to WSJ article, listed in no particular order):

Augusta, GA
Little Rock
Murfreesboro, TN
Oklahoma City
Providence, RI
Puget Sound (Seattle)

BEST PERFORMING V-A HOSPITALS (according to WSJ article, listed in no particular order):

Ann Arbor, MI
West Haven, CT
Newington, CT


“The SAIL report referred to in the WSJ article addresses 24 health care measures, for internal comparison of VA facilities only. Many Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS) SAIL measures outperform the U.S. National averages for hospitals as reported by Medicare.gov Hospital Compare. CAVHS is a tertiary facility accepting Veterans with complex medical conditions from rural areas in six surrounding states. This particularly impacts our length of stay which is the single most heavily weighted SAIL measure – length of stay counts for ten percent of the total score.

We continuously strive to provide exceptional health care to improve the health and well-being of the Veterans we serve.

Improvement initiatives include:

  • Adopting best practices of high-performing VA facilities.
  • Training more than 400 clinical staff in Lean, Six-Sigma, and system redesign improvement principles.
  • Engaging an outside consultant for one-on-one documentation training for more than 200 physicians.

Thank you for bringing the local Veteran’s concerns to our attention. When a Veteran has an issue with the care received, we work with the Veteran on a case-by-case basis to resolve any issues. We are reaching-out to this Veteran to clear up an confusion about his treatment options. We continue to proudly serve Arkansas Veterans and we remain dedicated to providing exceptional health care to improve Veteran’s health and well-being.”