Veterans Affairs hospitals, or VA hospitals as they’re commonly known, play a crucial role in serving our country by caring for the men and women who serve our country through military service.
In honor of Memorial Day, here’s a look at how VA hospitals came to be and the advances they’ve introduced to healthcare over the years.
- 1930 – President Hoover creates the Veterans Administration to consolidate all veteran services.
- 1945 – Major General Paul Hawley appointed as director of VA medicine, establishes policy of affiliating new VA hospitals with medical schools, leading to resident and teaching fellowships at VA hospitals, a hospital-based research program at the VA, and the ability to serve a much larger population of veterans.
- 1988 – President Reagan creates the Department of Veterans Affairs, in part to oversee the Veterans Health Administration.
- 1994 – President Clinton appoints Dr. Kenneth Kizer to VA leadership and charges him with improving efficiency and quality of care in the VA hospital system, in addition to eliminating a negative public perception.
Today, the VA hospital system is praised for its electronic medical records system, which works by assigning bar codes to nurses, patients, and medication bottles. Since its implementation, the number of medication dispense errors have been cut in half and thousands of lives have been saved.
They’ve expanded their outreach to men and women veterans, including those who are homeless. Additionally, they continue to train thousands of physicians and other healthcare professionals through their academic affiliations, and have become a leader in the fields of geriatrics, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s Disease, and palliative care.
Ongoing initiatives include the implementation of a plan to seamlessly transition veterans from the care of the Department of Defense healthcare to the VA hospital system’s care, as well as continued research into better-functioning prosthetic limbs, treatment of PTSD, and the effects of Agent Orange.
So, this holidays weekend, remember to thank the service men and women, as well as the VA doctors and nurses who care for them when they return home.