Hill Country Veterans Council Meeting

A meeting of the Texas Hill Country Veterans Council was held on November 19, 2013 at the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce. Attending the meeting was:

Vicki Marsh, President
Bill Bacon, First Vice President
David Rittenhouse, Second Vice President
Members Alan Hill, Gary Noller and Kirk Kinley
Guests Col Susan Junker from Bandera
Mike Cagle and Maggie Baker from Veterans Peer Network
Paul Gregory, Chief Administrative Officer Kerrville VA

The meeting was called to order at 0900 by President Marsh.

The first order of business was the award presentation to Mr. Bob Waller in recognition of his service to the community while a member of the Hill Country Veterans Council. Bob was very appreciative of his award and made a few brief comments to the Council before he was forced to leave due to other commitments.

In the next segment of the meeting, Mr. Paul Gregory, Administrative Director of the Kerrville VA Hospital, answered questions that had been prepared, written and sent to Mr. Gregory prior to the meeting.

(Note: Statements preceded by an asterisk * were not in the questions posed but arose and were addressed out of order.)

Question 1: what is the status of Mental Health Staffing?
Reference retirement of Dr. Johnson, a replacement is in the process of interviewing and a background check is currently being conducted. Dr. Senter is managing the PTSD Clinic. We also have a new resident Psychologist on staff. A Nurse Practitioner is being interviewed. We have a new Registered Nurse in the clinic. There are no plans for a second social worker. A Pharm D is being recruited for prescription management.

*The expansion of the pharmacy is for the mail out for the South Texas Health Care System, which includes about 60 Texas counties and not for pick-up prescriptions.
*They have selected a new part time Gastroenterologist. Dr. Dorman is currently doing colonoscopies 1 day per week and minor surgery 4 days per week. Dr. Stauffer is doing colonoscopies on Friday and Saturday.

Question 2: status of Dermatologist? A Dermatologist is due in March.

Question 3: no notes taken on VA’s informing vets of maximum dosage of acetaminophen and danger of combining it with other over-the-counter drugs. Col. Marsh will follow up.

Question 4: Ultrasound Tech: the new Ultrasound Tech is currently undergoing training at Audie Murphy and will be in Kerrville full time by end of December, 2013.

Question 5: Status of swallowing studies: clinical and radiological test are increasing to two days per month in January.

*A full time Occupational Therapist has been approved for a full time position. It is unknown when the position will be filled.

Question 6: Cataract pre-op status: All cataract surgeries and treatments are being relocated to SAMMC in January.

Question 7: Removal of ear wax in Audiology? Alan Hill said his appointment with Audiology resulted in him being sent back to his PACT for treatment. In addition he was told to buy a specific ear flush from a local drug store and flush out his own ears before going for further treatment. Paul Gregory will follow up.

Question 8: Arrhythmia Clinic? The clinic has only been able to fill 11 of 16 appointments made. They can only see 8 appointments per day and work in Kerrville only 1 day per month.

Question 9: Tele Health: Home Tele Health is only available for certain diseases. Equipment is provided to patients and is a Skype type of operation. Tele Health for PTSD is available. For those who prefer a personal visit, they are given the option. But they must go to Audie for the visit.

Question 10: Patient Count: Tele Health does not affect the patient count for Kerrville.

Finally, Mr. Gregory reviewed the progress for the larger pharmacy and said they are now going into the design phase. As to the other construction, he said they were through with most of the litigation and would be going into selection of a contractor very soon.

At this point in the meeting, Mr. Gregory departed and the President addressed internal issues.

Col. Junker asked if there were any Reserve Medical Units in the area that could be recruited for help in the VA. There was no definitive answer.

Col. Marsh mentioned Outreach and said the next opportunity is scheduled for Dec 7 from 0800 to 1700 at the Youth Barn on Highway 27. There is a swap meet at the venue. The Veterans Center will provide tables and chairs. Bacon will provide two signs.

Col. Marsh brought up funding. It was agreed that the Council has no official status and therefore cannot be a non-profit unless we are incorporated and then request a non-profit status. Therefore, we will continue to pass the hat.

The next Stakeholder’s Meeting (MAC) will be held January 27. Issues will be mental health status, ACA glitches for vets and psychiatrist recruiting. Tami King, CVSO in Gillespie County, provided a current listing of County Veteran Service Officers in the KVA catchment area. Col. Marsh will provide this list to Kathryn Gifford, Audie Murphy’s PAO, so that they can be invited to the next meeting. The plan is to include them telephonically because many lack the funds to travel. We include others beyond the Hill Country because they lack representation. Gary Noller will get names and contact info from Janice Casillas, his counterpart in the Rio Grande Valley.

VISN 17 Director is Joseph Dalpiaz.

Tami King got a complete list of the CVSO’s and intends to invite them to the MAC meetings.

The meeting closed at 1035.

These notes are presented to the Council by First Vice President Bill Bacon. Please notify me of anything of importance I may have missed at bbacon11@hctc.net.

Comments to us or the V. A. would be greatly appreciated.