Did Baldrige Herald VA as World-Class Health Care Role Model?

A Testimonial that Baldrige may regret

Stunning News: The Veterans Administration (VA) has been using Baldrige for more than 15 years to guide its 'improvement' . . . so, why are veterans, veterans' families, the media, and even the politicians complaining about the VA? . . .  which the Baldrige Program has advocated as "arguably the best public health care system in the world"

Baldrige BLOGRIGE appears to herald VA as a world-class HC role model . . . really! . . . (read the Baldrige VA Testimonial Blog here): And, here is one of the key quotes from the Blog link: "At the highest level, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has used the Baldrige Criteria enterprise-wide and participated in the Carey program since its inception (in 2000). That coupled with the adoption of other enterprise-wide engineering and management best practices, has been responsible for the transformation of VA over the years from a health care system with widespread quality issues, to arguably the best public health care system in the world today, as evidenced by being the benchmark for many key health care metrics espoused by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says Holliday". 

Similarly, VA's National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has integrated the Baldrige Criteria into its "Organizational Assessment and Improvement Program", which it uses to evaluate all VA national cemeteries. As a result of building the Baldrige Criteria best practices and other quality improvement practices into the NCA management system, it has achieved the highest customer satisfaction rating ever recorded by the University of Michigan's Customer Satisfaction Index of 94%, according to Holliday. [Scott Holliday, Director of VA Management Systems Improvement]

Note: Baldrige appears to have heralded this VA NCA account of "the highest customer satisfaction rating ever recorded by the University of Michigan's Customer Satisfaction Index" in late 2012 after the NCA was caught-in-the-act of misidentifying hundreds of veterans' graves during a partial audit reported in early 2012. The VA's version of the Baldrige Award has gone no less than four times to NCA operations.

What happened to the VA Carey Award?: Baldrige describes the VA Carey Award as being basically equivalent to the Baldrige Award. However, it appears that the Carey Award website has gone dormant since 2012. It appears that the 2014 celebration of the most recent winner of the top Carey Award (VA Portland) has been postponed . . . if not permanently cancelled. BTW, VA Portland was ranked almost last (125 out of 128) among VA hospitals for patient care wait time . . . however, this did not prevent them from taking top Carey Award honors . . .

The Baldrige Blog appears to report that VA was using the Baldrige Criteria to achieve 'world-best public service health care' and an 'unsurpassed level of customer satisfaction at the National Cemetery Administration. So, the question is: Why did VA stop the Carey Program if it is key to VA's world-class quality? This could leave the impression with some that one of VA's immediate improvement actions includes stopping the use of the Baldrige Criteria partially . . . if not, totally.

And, why did they change the Portland VA leadership shortly after winning the Carey Award?

Editorial Note: It appears that what is common to several if not all VA-activities cited by Baldrige includes:

CNN has provided a succinct summary of VA's chronic history of failing to effectively serve our veterans and our taxpayers . . . read CNN: VA Chronology


Developing . . .: Dr. Roulan Stacey (Chair of Baldrige Board of Overseers) July 17, 2014 quote excerpt to US House Committee on Veterans' Affairs: "The [Baldrige Award] program initially revolutionized manufacturing in the United States, and is is now having the same effect on health care."