SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) — Joseph Vaughn had a busy week last week. He started his job as the director of the Salisbury VA Medical Center, met hundreds of new employees, continued the process of moving to a new city and took the time to register as a new patient at the Salisbury VAMC .
Vaughn, a Navy veteran, said he plans to receive all of his medical care at VAMC in Salisbury and expects to be treated the same as any other veteran seen through the extensive healthcare network. regional health. He hopes this means he and his fellow veterans will each receive exceptional care.
“My number one goal is to take care of my brothers and sisters who have served like me and to make sure that we give them the best possible care,” Vaughn said in an interview Thursday.
He took time out of his busy first week schedule to speak with WBTV about his plans as a director.
Vaughn comes to Salisbury after serving with the VA for more than 12 years in Mississippi, most recently as Associate Director of the Jackson, Miss. VAMC.
He said some of his top priorities will be to ensure that patients have access to care as quickly as possible, particularly primary and mental health care.
“Always drive that access number as low as possible,” he said. “As fast as we can get veterans in, we want them in. And I want them in. I want to improve this access.
He also highlighted working to prevent veteran suicide and help smooth out wrinkles with the VA Choice program as other priorities.
Vaughn takes the executive job nearly a year after Kaye Greene abruptly announced that she was leaving for a private sector job in New Mexico.
Greene’s tenure was marred by multiple scandals, including reports from the Office of Inspector General that revealed that some employees manipulated wait-time numbers to make it look like veterans were waiting for appointments. you shorter than they actually were.
Other reports noted problems with the cleanliness and administration of some medical services.
Vaughn said he was aware of these issues and wanted to focus on resolving these situations so he could move on.
“I read all the IG reports before I got here,” he said. “One of the first things I did when I got here was to find out where we are, what the IG found, have we fixed the issues, if there are still things that we have to deal with, where are we on the status of this?”
Although Vaughn said he plans to help increase access to private medical providers through the VA Choice program — a key priority for VA Secretary David Shulkin — he said he hopes alumni combatants would be sufficiently satisfied with the care provided by VA providers that they will want to return to the government for their services.
“If we create a situation where a veteran chooses to go somewhere else, we ultimately don’t become relevant anymore,” Vaughn said.
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