SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A snap inspection of the Sioux Falls VA showed the health care system got a mostly clean bill of health.
The report of the surprise inspection, released by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General on Tuesday, Dec. 3, identified eight relatively minor areas of improvement, but only one was considered a critical concern: a shortage of emergency room nurses.
Leaders of the Sioux Falls VA concurred with all the findings of the inspectors. The system had addressed all issues identified in the inspection conducted the week of March 11, the department's inspector general concluded in the report.
"Indicative of effective leadership, the facility has closed all recommendations for improvement," the report stated.
Department rules require the VA medical center's emergency room be staffed with two nurses at all times. Due to the shortage of nurses, the facility wasn't meeting that requirement, the inspection found, sometimes only staffing with a single nurse. The Sioux Falls VA fixed the shortage by September, the report said.
A recently released report of a snap inspection of the Fargo, North Dakota, VA facilities found similar understaffing of emergency room nurses for the same reason: workforce shortages.
The report also found a number of other, more minor shortcomings. Those included data review practices, evaluations for some care providers, some old furniture, a need to improve verification of orders for opioid prescriptions, training on military sexual trauma, educating patients on medication and a lack of needed representatives on the Womens Veterans Health Committee.
The Sioux Falls VA staff has dealt with many of the recommended changes by the report's release date, with a few adjustments underway and scheduled for completion next year, the report found.
The inspectors also found numerous positive items, including some better-than-average survey results of patients' experiences and employees views of the Sioux Falls VA's leadership.
“This largely positive report underscores why thousands of South Dakota veterans choose to be treated at the Sioux Falls VA Health Care System year after year," responded the Sioux Falls VA, in an emailed statement. "Sioux Falls VAHCS operates one of the largest and most complex facilities in the state and is seeing more patients than ever before more quickly than ever before. In addition, the facility compares favorably to nearby non-VA hospitals in many areas.
"Sioux Falls VAHCS continually strives to improve performance, and already has plans in place to complete to IG’s recommendations by next summer.”