Mountain Home VA Medical Center Director Charlene Ehret with the prestigious Carey Award. (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)
If you get medical care at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mountain Home, you may be interested to know that facility was awarded a top honor among 152 VA hospitals in 2012.
The award, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 2012 Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence Trophy Award, was presented to Mountain Home Director Charlene Ehret Wednesday morning.
See a photo gallery of the award ceremony at the end of this article.
William Schoenhard, deputy under secretary for health for operations and management for the Veterans Health Administration, was among VA officials from Washington, D.C., who attended the presentation.
“It’s very comprehensive and it’s a great testament to the leadership here and the staff that they won the nation’s highest award within VA, the Carey Award,” Schoenhard said in an interview before the award ceremony. “Today, we’re honored to have Mountain Home VA Medical Center receive the top award for quality improvement... which is just a tremendous national honor.”
Out of the 152 VA hospitals, only two received the top Carey Award.
Schoenhard said the award is based on the Baldridge Criteria for Excellence and is a testament to the systematic way Mountain Home employees go about providing patient care.
“We’re all very proud of the people here who have served our veterans so well throughout the years,” he said.
Also present for the trophy presentation was Dr. Phillip Bagnell, East Tennessee State University medical dean.
ETSU’s medical school is located on the VA campus and benefits from collaboration with the medical center, Bagnell said.
He said the VA medical center allows students to train in an environment that instills in them empathy and concern for patients in an oftentimes uncertain health care environment.
Robert Snyder, principal deputy assistant secretary in the VA office of policy and planning, said as someone who has a family history of military service, he was proud of Mountain Home employees.
“I thank you for doing what you do each and every day — taking care of our nation’s veterans,” Snyder said.
Ehret said she was proud of the quality of care provided to veterans at Mountain Home.
“We have a very special mission and a very special constituency, and it’s just an honor to do the very best that we can do for them in terms of providing quality health care,” she said.
Mountain Home serves around 56,000 veterans throughout East Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.
Prior to the top Carey Award, Mountain Home was ranked in the top 10 percent for surgical mortality, received the National Center for Patient Safety Gold Medal Award for strong practices and attained other notable recognitions including a Carey Award for performance excellence and a Tennessee state quality award.
The award given Wednesday should further reinforce in people’s minds that Mountain Home employees are committed to the patients they see, Ehret said.
“I think they should be proud that we’re taking care of our nation’s heros and that we’re providing them the best care anywhere,” Ehret said.