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New York/New Jersey VA Health Care Network


Delivering on Promise of Better Service

Left to right photo of Veterans Abdul Smith and Herbert Hipp.

Left to right photo of Veterans Abdul Smith and Herbert Hipp conversing in the newly renovated Mental Health waiting area at the Manhattan VA Medical Center which is part of the New York Harbor VA Healthcare System.

By Claudie Benjamin, Public Affairs Officer, New York Harbor Healthcare System.
Friday, August 25, 2017

Improving the patient experience is one of the many ways how the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System (VANYHHS) is delivering on the promise of better care, better service, and a better future for every Veteran and employee. 

Some of what is changing is in plain sight.  “The Veteran comes in, goes to his or her appointments and it looks and feels great.  That’s what we’re aiming for,” says VANYHHS Director Martina Parauda.  Modernization includes ease in checking in, directional signage and attention paid to ensure that  interactions with all staff are characterized by patience, helpfulness and respect to  ensure the Veteran has a positive experience throughout an entire visit to the medical center. 

Acknowledging that on a visit some months ago, Secretary Shulkin expressed a need for improvement in the way the hospital looks, VA New York Harbor set out immediately to dramatically change and modernize.  Ms. Parauda conducted Modernization Town Halls for employees at the three Harbor campuses located in Manhattan, Brooklyn and St. Albans Community Living Center.  She  presented photos to illustrate significant occurring at the Manhattan Campus which are modeling future modernization throughout the Harbor.  Many innovations are possible because of the very generous donations of community partners. The Director presented photos to illustrate remarkable change occurring at the Manhattan Campus which is modeling future modernization throughout the Harbor.

The huge Lobby at VA’s Manhattan Campus already looks vastly changed from the way it looked six months ago.  It is lighter and brighter,  art donated by Veterans is exhibited on the walls, café-style seating has been arranged with the Veterans Canteen Service as part of a plan for further improvements.  Already in the works is installation of an entirely new information and check-in system.  This area is often the site for community performances, like the recent concert performed by the Metropolitan Orchestra musicians, and a soon to be completed stage is being built for the benefit of our patients.

Outlining  the specifics of modernization initiatives, Ms. Parauda said, “Our Intent is to make our facility welcoming and professional.  How are we going to do this?  Our process is  a combination of internal, contract and partnership with outside.  We’ve set up a stakeholders group for Lobby that includes staff representatives from many departments including Engineering, Police, Public Affairs and various clinical services.  Modernization of the hospital buildings is also being reflected in upgrading waiting rooms,  This means improved seating, art on the walls, availability of reading materials along with signage that is welcoming to all who served. “The idea is that we all need to take ownership and responsibility for our Medical Center and make it a better environment of care.”

Ms. Parauda noted that the call for modernization is being enthusiastically embraced by employees who are coming up with ideas and suggestions about how they can be implemented.   “As always identifying and prioritizing the challenges is a key step in making positive change,” said Ms. Parauda.  “And, good outcomes are already evident.”  Both patients and staff are commenting appreciatively, for example, on the totally transformed Mental Health Waiting Room at VA’s Manhattan Campus. The improvements were made possible with a donation from a private foundation and the very hard work executed by Harbor engineers, painters, carpenters, electricians and EMS staff.  This transformation is setting the standard for changes that are being made across the Harbor. “We clearly are achieving an improved environment  and have received positive comments from the Secretary,” said Ms. Parauda.


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