DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The current head of the Department of Veterans Affairs said mental health, and women’s health, are two areas where the agency still needs to change. Acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke made the comments Monday during a visit to the Dallas VA Medical Center.
Just a few weeks into the job, O’Rourke met with local VA leadership including U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
“Excited to be in a place that has innovations around every corner,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke is familiarizing himself with facilities after leading the VA’s Office on Accountability and Transparency.
Under his watch, the VA just released its ratings of its nursing home facilities for the first time.
In Texas, VA nursing homes earned three, four and even five-star overall ratings.
Quality of care ratings, however dipped to just one or two stars and O’Rourke would not commit yet to releasing the data behind those ratings.
“We’re evaluating exactly what is the most appropriate for us to put out there and that will support continuous improvement and that also will provide good decision making information for veterans.”
He did say the VA needs to extend outreach to veterans who need mental health help and provide a safe and secure environment for women.
And even as the second consecutive acting secretary, he is confident continued leadership changes won’t affect veterans’ care.
“That doesn’t change based on who’s the secretary, or the deputy secretary of any of those kind of things. That is a consistent communication up and down that shows that were really improving the VA from a communication standpoint.”
O’Rourke is only expected to be in this role for a short time as Robert Wilkie waits for confirmation as the next VA Secretary.