COLUMBIA— Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., announced the results of a survey which asked veterans about their experiences at Missouri Veterans Administration hospitals at a news conference Friday afternoon at MU's Memorial Union.
The Veterans Customer Satisfaction Program, which is administered by McCaskill's office, allows veterans to act as "secret shoppers," and submit confidential feedback on the care they received at Veterans Administration hospitals or clinics. The survey incorporated responses from 864 veterans from three regions – Columbia, St. Louis and Kansas City.
McCaskill praised Truman Veterans Hospital for the high marks it received on the survey.
"I want to congratulate the Columbia facility because it got the highest marks. The Columbia VCSP was the most positive and showed improvement on every question," McCaskill said.
McCaskill was referring to the 90 percent of the 251 veterans surveyed who said they would recommend the Truman Veterans Hospital to other veterans.
Almost 80 percent of Columbia-area respondents rated their experience as "excellent" or "above average," which is considerably higher than results from St. Louis and Kansas City. Columbia's results were up nearly 18 percent from the previous year.
Just a little more than 66 percent of Kansas City-area responses rated their overall experience as "excellent" or "above average," about a 12 percent increase from the previous year, compared to 52 percent of St. Louis responses, which was a 7 percent increase from the previous year.
McCaskill said the survey has been helpful in working with the VA to improve Missouri facilities because it allows veterans to directly communicate about issues they need addressed, but she said she believes there is still work to do.
McCaskill said she hopes to expand survey access to include the veterans treated at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, which offers treatment to about 20,000 veterans in southeast Missouri.
She also said she encourages senators from other states to offer similar programs to the veterans they serve.
McCaskill also addressed concerns regarding the VA's handling of a scandal at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Medical Center that came to light last week as well as at the 26 VA facilities under investigation.
Although McCaskill expressed confidence in the VA leadership's ability to resolve the issues facing the department, she said those found responsible for falsifying appointment records to hide delays in care should be fired.
Stephen Gaither, public affairs spokesman for the Truman Veterans Hospital, said that the controversy has prompted a mostly positive response toward the hospital.
Gaither said there have been some concerned calls, but many more callers have expressed appreciation for the care they've received at the Truman hospital.
Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.