"This has been an unforgettable year. I have worked closely with the leadership team in the Medicine Service to implement many changes in a very short time span. The volunteerism and openness to change demonstrated by all involved have been incredible. We have been able to cut the red tape and delays in a manner I would have thought impossible before the pandemic. I hope this will continue long after the pandemic, allowing us to continue evolving and improving the care we provide our nation’s Veterans." - Sanjay Saint, MD, MPH
The VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS) continued to experience steady outpatient and inpatient activity in 2020, with our campus handling 777,856 outpatient encounters and 86,451 inpatient encounters.
Our Fourth Mission
For the first time in its 67-year history, on April 5, 2020, VAAAHS began accepting non-Veteran patient transfers from overburdened area hospitals. In this historic move, the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit and the VAAAHS each activated their response to the VA’s “Fourth Mission”: To improve the nation’s preparedness for response to national emergencies and to support local critical needs to non-Veterans in times of crisis.
Given this unique opportunity, a team of our VAAAHS researchers conducted a survey to better understand non-Veteran perceptions of the quality of care provided at VA medical centers. This first-of-its-kind study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that non-Veterans perceived the VA favorably in terms of overall care, physician care, nursing care, and communication when compared to transferring facilities and other hospitals. In general, non-Veterans were highly satisfied with the care received at the VA and often preferred VA care over non-VA care. The paper’s first author was our Chief of Hospital Medicine, Ashwin Gupta, MD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine.
First Fisher House Opens
Despite the many pauses caused by the pandemic, the first Fisher House in the state of Michigan officially opened as planned in June 2020, a short walk from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare Center. With this new facility, up to 16 families at a time can stay free of charge in this home away from home, allowing them to be close to their loved ones at a very stressful time - during hospitalization at the VAAAHS. The 16-suite, 13,400-square-foot “comfort home” is one of 87 Fisher Houses operating in the United States and Europe.