VA Center Director Touts Progress

Steve Calahan | Lacrosse Tribune | January 26, 2011

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care system has become one of the best anywhere, partly because of a big change made in mid-1990s, the director of the Tomah VA Medical Center said Tuesday. The quality of care offered at the Tomah center is “excellent,” Jerry Molnar said after his talk, part of the Leadership at Noon Series of lectures at Viterbo University. “We have good people.”

Molnar also said about $5 million in improvements were made last federal fiscal year to the Tomah facility, with much of the money coming from federal economic stimulus funds. With just 2 million of the nation’s World War II veterans still living, Vietnam-era veterans represent the largest group —  7.5 million — within the nation’s 22.7 million military service veterans.

Molnar cited a major change made by Kenneth Kizer, who served as the VA’s undersecretary of health from 1994 to 1999. Kizer essentially said “We are going to have performance measurement of virtually every aspect of health care” in the system, Molnar told the audience. “It didn’t go over easily. It was a big change.” But the change was accomplished in a few years, he said, adding “That has helped immensely with quality and with our reputation.”