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New VA Secretary Visits Phoenix Medical Center

VA Secretary Robert McDonald announces upcoming changes at VA medical facilities.
(Photo by Carrie Jung - KJZZ)
VA Secretary Robert McDonald announces upcoming changes at VA medical facilities.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald met with veterans, medical staff and veterans support organizations at the Phoenix VA medical center on Friday. The secretary also took the time to announce several actions the administration would take in the coming weeks.

One of the first announcements McDonald covered was the initiation of an independent review of scheduling practices at VA facilities nationwide.

The secretary also promised to reaffirm the institution’s values. He’s been handing out buttons and cards that say “I care” to medical staff. He pledged to eliminate performance goals that could divert attention away from veteran care like wait time goals, and he’ll require VA directors to report any instance they feel they can’t provide quality care.

McDonald acknowledged the upcoming changes would take a lot of work, but insisted all of the goals were doable.

"I’ve been on the job about a week or so, and I’m more encouraged today than I was before," he said. 

McDonald also highlighted several steps the Phoenix facility would be taking to improve care for their veterans, including hiring about 1,000 people.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.