BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The director of the Gulf Coast Veterans Affairs Health Care System says the system is not perfect but remains very strong.
Anthony Dawson's message Thursday morning emphasized the ongoing need to find innovative ways of putting the veterans first. Access to health care has improved over the past year, thanks in large part to the hiring of new medical staff.
"The state of the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System remains very, very strong," Dawson told the crowd at the VA chapel. "We're not perfect, but we're definitely very, very strong."
Dawson, who assumed leadership of the Gulf Coast system around four years ago, said the system is moving toward a "whole health" approach for veterans care. He outlined five key areas that make up such an approach, including the formation of strong partnerships and paying attention to the socioeconomic and cultural needs of each veteran.
"Our focus now is to deliver care to our veterans that is personal, that is proactive, that is patient driven," said Dawson.
Embracing the "whole health" approach is a challenge for VA facilities because veterans health care is not one size fits all.Hiring new doctors, nurses and mental health professionals has helped improve access to health care and reduced wait times for veterans.
But, the challenge to improve remains constant.
"What I'm asking my team to do is hard, but they wouldn't have it any other way. We definitely believe the quote, 'A harder right is better than an easier wrong,'" noted Dawson.
Capital improvement projects continue across the Gulf Coast system, including plans to build a new veterans clinic in Mobile.