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See how Biloxi rated among VA medical centers nationwide

Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi director Anthony Dawson listens to veterans' comments during a town hall meeting there the on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016.
Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi director Anthony Dawson listens to veterans' comments during a town hall meeting there the on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Star ratings on the performance of each of the 146 medical centers operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have been kept internal — until now.

USA TODAY obtained the internal documents showing the ratings based on the quality of care they provide.

The document shows the Biloxi VA is rated two out of a possible five stars for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Mary Kay Gominger, public affairs officer for the Biloxi VA, said the hospital was at three stars at one point last year.

“The new ratings will be out in the next few weeks and we hope to move up to three stars,” she said.

The Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning program, or SAIL, assigns a star ranking to each VA medical center based on 28 measures such as mortality, length of stay, cleanliness of the hospital, wait times and customer satisfaction, and all are weighted differently.

“There’s nothing like it in the private sector,” Gominger said, adding the rankings are very technical.

Many of five-star medical centers are in Massachusetts and New York and the upper Midwest, including South Dakota and Minnesota, according to USA Today, and the lowest-performing medical centers are clustered in Texas and Tennessee.

Gominger said teams at the Biloxi VA are meeting every week to try to improve the level of care and raise the star ratings that are based on care in the hospital and as outpatients. They also added veterans to serve on the advisory board.

Though veterans complained in October about outpatient care, they rank Biloxi high for inpatient services.

Veterans speak out at Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care Systems town hall meeting in Biloxi. The forum allowed veterans to speak about problems they have encountered and offered people to help them find solutions.

The national office send a satisfaction survey to each person who had stayed at the hospital. The April 2016 assessment, the latest numbers Gominger has on record, show the hospital scored 100 percent for cleanliness. “The national average is 91,” she said.

Communications with doctors and nurses both scored 97.3 percent in a patient survey sent out by the national VA after patient stays. “Both of these are above the national average,” she said.

The overall score on patient satisfaction was 86.6 in Biloxi, compared with 63.9 percent nationwide. Patient trust in the Biloxi VA to provide services was 90.6 percent, versus 81.9 percent nationwide.

USA Today said the reports show on average veterans are dying at lower rates and contracting fewer staph and urinary-tract infections from catheters in VA medical centers since 2014. But they are experiencing higher rates of preventable complications during hospital stays than they did in 2014, and nurse turnover has increased.

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