IU Health CEO testifies on possible VA solutions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The VA hospital scandal has made national headlines, but as of Wednesday Indiana was playing a role as part of the potential solution.

Indiana had a voice in Washington D.C. Wednesday as major players in health care were asked to testify, including the CEO of one of Indiana’s top hospital.

The House Veterans Affairs committee is looking to the private sector for answers in the scandal. IU Health CEO Dan Evans testified every day he looks out his downtown window at 10th and Senate and sees five hospitals — including the Roudebush VA Medical Center.

“None of those hospitals is full every day. None. I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of square feet we have of outpatient facilities in the same area, but there’s got to be a way in an era of scarce resources to flex in a way that takes advantage of all the resources that are available,” Evans said.

Private hospitals suggested the VA lease space.

With the VA under scrutiny for secret wait lists and veterans dying waiting to be seen by doctors, Evans said IU Health now has one day service. The appointments are made online for primary care appointments.

“It beats the heck out of me why someone can’t make an appointment the same way I made my airplane ticket and boarding pass to get here,” Evans told the committee.

He then showed them a sample of how IU Health schedules online.

Evans said just as the VA is turning to the private sector, IU Health also turned to others to change the way IU Health worked internally.

“Where did we go to train our senior staff including me? We went to Dow Agri-Sciences, Eli Lilly and Subaru — all of whom are located in Indiana,” he said. “We had all of our senior leaders mandatorily attend their lean training.”

He then spoke of when he first became CEO.

“If I went to a meeting and the word ‘patient’ wasn’t mentioned in the first five or six minutes, I just figured I was at the wrong meeting,” Evans said. “So who is the keeper of the flame at a big institution?”

He explained even today, the patient has to be the number one concern, something the VA must learn about veterans. Directly after the hearing, Evans left to go to Arlington National Cemetery to bury his father-in-law.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate the acting head of the VA, Sloan Gibson, testified.

“This would never happen in the private sector,” Gibson said. “You’d never stand for it. You’d fail as a business if you did this. It makes no sense, and I’m not holding back now and will not hold back in the future. But I’ve also told these folks that have worked on these numbers — I don’t want a penny in there we can’t justify, not one cent.”

Gibson said he will fix scheduling problems to get veterans off waiting lists and into clinics.

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