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VA medical center in IM receives national award for 4th straight year

Tim Ellison (center), Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center Veteran Experience Specialist, and Dr. Mark Kadowaki (right), OGJVAMC Chief of Staff, receive the 2021 Best Experience Award for a level III facility from Dr. Shereef Elnahal (left), Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health, during the Customer Experience Symposium in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 7. This is the fourth consecutive year the Iron Mountain VA has won a Best Experience Award, the only VA system to have done so. (Photo by Veteran Affairs Photographer Eugene Russell)

IRON MOUNTAIN — The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center received the 2021 Best Experience Award for level III (small, low complexity) facilities during the Customer Experience Symposium on Sept. 7 in Washington, D.C.

“Since I’ve been with the VA, this has been one of the most impressive teams I’ve worked with,” Acting Medical Center Director Zachary Sage said. “Receiving this award reflects the dedication and care our staff has for our veterans and each other. It’s humbling to be a member of this team.”

In both 2018 and 2019, the facility was awarded the Best Experience Award for level III facilities, and in 2020, the Best Overall Experience Award, besting 169 other medical centers nationwide.

Since 2012, Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center has been consistently in the top 10 of all VA health care facilities for employee and patient satisfaction, according to the VA All Employee Survey and V-Signals survey, which measures patient satisfaction.

A few of the actions taken that contributed to this year’s success included maintaining an open-door policy to executive leadership and collaborating with stakeholders to improve the patient experience, Sage said.

Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center staff members had a parade outside the Community Living Center to cheer and thank veterans for their service in honor of Friday being POW/MIA Recognition Day. It included a special recognition for one of the few remaining POW veterans from World War II. Employees then joined forces on the front lawn to spell out POW/MIA in honor of all American prisoners of war, those who are still missing and their families. CLC residents also had a special donor-sponsored lunch. (Photo by Katie Maxon, Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center)

“We also used Facebook Live and tele-townhalls to engage more than 20,000 veterans and family members virtually since 2018, and expanded whole health programs and services more than 40 percent based on veteran feedback,” he added.

Outside of the VA, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services uses a five-star quality rating system to measure the experiences Medicare beneficiaries have with their health plan and health care system, the Star Rating Program. Ratings are on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the highest. The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center is the only VA hospital to receive a 5-star summary rating in every reporting cycle since VA medical centers were included in Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems ratings in 2017.

To enroll with the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center, go to the website at https://www.va.gov/iron-mountain-health-care/ and click the “Register for care” link or stop in the center at 325 E. H St. in Iron Mountain.

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