Albuquerque Va Hospital Slightly Improved in Some Areas

Albuquerque’s Raymond G. Murphy Medical Center for veterans moved up 11 spots in ranking since last year. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Despite “small improvement,” Albuquerque’s Raymond G. Murphy Medical Center for veterans still ranks low on an internal Veterans Affairs ranking system, according to recent data released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

But the hospital did pull itself out of the bottom 10 ranked VA hospitals, where it landed with a score of 1 star out of a possible high of 5 stars in mid-2016.

The VA’s Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning, or SAIL, rates 146 VA facilities quarterly based on a five-star system.

Albuquerque’s VA hospital was rated a 2 out of a possible 5 at the end of fiscal year 2017, the same as the end of previous fiscal year.

The report also noted “small improvement” had been made.

“New Mexico VA Health Care System compares well with other regional health care systems on many performance metrics,” said associate director Sonja Brown in an email, adding that the Albuquerque facility moved up 11 spots in the ranking since last year.

The star ratings are given relative to other VA medical centers and include a variety of metrics, including access to care, quality of mental health care, employee perception of the organization, nursing turnover and efficiency.

“(VA Secretary) Dr. (David) Shulkin has said he will use this tool to evaluate leadership,” said Roscoe Butler, the American Legion’s deputy director of health care. “The prior administration and this administration have viewed this information as a good tool to measure VA facility performance within the system.”

“By design, there will always be a distribution of VA hospitals between one and five stars,” explained Albuquerque medical center director Andrew Welch in a December 2016 Journal article.

Brown said the Albuquerque facility has shown the greatest improvements in hospitalwide readmissions, health-care-associated infections and mental health continuity of care.

The VA began publicly releasing the internal ratings last year after USA Today obtained and published them.

The VA has since pledged to publish them annually in an effort to increase the agency’s transparency.

“Secretary Shulkin has been clear that transparency is a crucial component of our efforts to reform the department,” Brown said.

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