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All the News That is St. Louis
Spotlight on St. Louis Area Neighborhood Activities - Updated July 22, 2014

VA Acting Secretary Soal Gibson Visits Local Hospital
Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson announced additional actions to improve Veterans' access to care at the VA St. Louis Health Care System during a visit today following his remarks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' 115th National Convention at the America's Center.

VA Acting Secretary Soal Gibson Visits Local Hospital
"No Veteran should have to wait for the care and services that they have earned and deserve," said Acting Secretary Sloan D. Gibson
VA Acting Secretary Sloan D. Gibson Addressed Issues at Hospital
by Bob Moore,
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, July 22, 2014 - Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson today announced additional actions to improve Veterans' access to care at the VA St. Louis Health Care System.

During a visit to the VA Hospital on N Grand, Acting Secretary Gibson noted that his younger daughter used to work for the St. Louis Cardinals and it was great to come back and see a lot of familiar places and faces.

Gibson's visit to the VA St. Louis Healthcare System is part of his continuing site visits to VA facilities across the country where he is hearing directly from Veterans and employees about obstacles to providing timely, quality care, and how VA can immediately address them.

"It's a solid operation here in St. Louis on the VA side," stated Gibson. "I don't think you'll find another large organization anywhere in the Federal Government that has transformed as much as they have. And that transformation puts them on track to eliminate the disability claims backlog by this time next year."

"No Veteran should have to wait for the care and services that they have earned and deserve," said Gibson, acknowledging that there is still a lot of work to do.

He emphasized that trust is the foundation of everything that they do. "We have to work to earn back the trust of our Veterans who depend on us for care," Gibson continued. He stated that they also needed to be more open and transparent.

In addition to the system-wide actions taken in response to the audit findings and data, Gibson outlined actions taken to accelerate access to care for Veterans in VA St. Louis Health Care System:

  • Reaching out to all Veterans waiting for care to get them off of wait lists and into clinics for medical appointments - as of July 9, VA St. Louis Health Care System has reached out to more than 3,000 Veterans.
  • In the last 12 months, initiating an effort to hire approximately 60 new staff to support scheduling function and clinical services.
  • VA St. Louis Health Care System has expanded the Call Center to incorporate contacts for Accelerated Care Initiative through use of overtime and temporary reassignments.
  • Expanded Non-VA Care Coordination (NVCC) clinical staff, working with reassigned nurses and light duty staff to allow for rapid processing of consults.
  • The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is ensuring that an additional $10.4 million from within VA's budget specifically be made available to the VA St. Louis Health Care System to accelerate access to care. These funds allow VA to refer Veterans to the community for care if VA does not have the capacity or services available to meet the needs at our facility.
  • Leveraging strong relationships with multiple providers in the community, to offer Veterans a choice of providers that meet their preferences and provides timely and quality care.
  • VA St. Louis Health Care System is expanding services to Veterans in Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. Cardiac surgery will begin this fiscal year with the expansion of neurosurgical services shortly thereafter.
  • At the direction of Acting Secretary Gibson, VA St. Louis Health Care System is exploring the use of established national contracts with community partners to schedule Veterans waiting to be seen by a provider.
On June 9, VA announced the following actions in response to the nationwide Access Audit findings and data:
  • Establishing New Patient Satisfaction Measurement Program
    Gibson has directed VHA to immediately begin developing a new patient satisfaction measurement program to provide real-time, robust, location-by-location information on patient satisfaction, to include satisfaction data of those Veterans attempting to access VA healthcare for the first time. This program will be developed with input from Veterans Service Organizations, outside healthcare organizations, and other entities. This will ensure VA collects an additional set of data - directly from the Veteran's perspective - to understand how VA is doing throughout the system.
  • Holding Senior Leaders Accountable
    Where audited sites identify concerns within the parent facility or its affiliated clinics, VA will trigger administrative procedures to ascertain the appropriate follow-on personnel actions for specific individuals.
  • Ordering an Immediate VHA Central Office and VISN Office Hiring Freeze
    Gibson has ordered an immediate hiring freeze at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) central office in Washington D.C. and the 21 VHA Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) regional offices, except for critical positions to be approved by the Secretary on a case-by-case basis. This action will begin to remove bureaucratic obstacles and establish responsive, forward leaning leadership.
  • Removing 14-Day Scheduling Goal
    VA is eliminating the 14-day scheduling goal from employee performance plans. This action will eliminate incentives to engage in inappropriate scheduling practices or behaviors.
  • Increasing Transparency by Posting Data Twice-Monthly
    At the direction of the Acting Secretary, VHA will post regular updates to the access data released today at the middle and end of each month at Twice-monthly data updates will enhance transparency and provide the most immediate information to Veterans and the public on Veterans access to quality healthcare.
  • Initiating an Independent, External Audit of Scheduling Practices
    Gibson has also directed that an independent, external audit of system-wide VHA scheduling practices be performed.
  • Utilizing High Performing Facilities to Help Those That Need Improvement
    VA will formalize a process in which high performing facilities provide direct assistance and share best practices with facilities that require improvement on particular medical center quality and efficiency, also known as SAIL, performance measures.
  • Suspending Performance Awards
    VA has suspended all VHA senior executive performance awards for FY2014.
Public Hearing on Community Development Block Grant
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, July 13, 2014 - The Community Development Administration (CDA) will hold a public hearing to discuss the development of the 2015 - 2019 Consolidated Plan and 2015 Annual Action Plan for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) programs.

The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, July 25, 2014 at CDA, which is located at 1520 Market Street - Suite 2000, St. Louis, MO 63103.

The views of citizens, public agencies and other interested parties are encouraged. Interpreting services are available upon request by calling the Office on the Disabled at (314) 622-3686/voice or (314) 622-3693/TTY.

The RFP for 2015 CDBG funding has been issued. The RFP and related forms can be found on the CDA website at under the 2015 CDBG Funding Cycle link.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 4:00 p.m. CST on August 11, 2014.

Questions pertaining to the RFP will be addressed at the July 25 public hearing. Other questions concerning the proposal process may be directed to Alana Green at

'Food for Fines' Program During July at St. Louis Public Library
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, July 7, 2014 - The St. Louis Public Library and the St. Louis Area Foodbank are partnering once again in the annual "Food for Fines" program.

Throughout July, adult readers can bring in canned goods of all kinds from baby formula to beef stew to St. Louis Public Library locations throughout the city. For every item donated, $1 will be subtracted from overdue fines. A $25 limit applies to fines only - not to lost or damaged materials. No glass items please.

The "Food for Fines" program provides a meaningful way for St. Louisans to serve the community. Patrons at all locations can participate, even if they do not owe fines but wanted to contribute to the cause.

Library users and staff were extremely generous in 2013, donating enough food for nearly 11,000 meals for the less fortunate in our community. This year's goal is to surpass that total. Once users pay down their fine, they have full access to all the life-enhancing materials and services the Library offers.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is a nonprofit food distribution center for organizations that feed hungry people in 14 eastern Missouri and 12 southwestern Illinois counties.

For more information, call the Library's Customer Service Department at 314-539-0342.

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Archived St. Louis Community News and Information:
 'Food for Fines' Program During July at St. Louis Public Library
 St. Louis Fire Department to Receive Grant to Enhance Training
 Painted Articulated MetroBus Spotlights South Grand
 Biking to Work Increases 60 Percent Over Last Decade
 Newly Rebuilt River des Peres Greenway Trail Opens at the Shrewsbury/Lansdowne MetroLink Station
 St. Louis City Introduces 'Milkweeds for Monarchs'
 Heat-Up St. Louis Hits A Record High of $165,000 To Date
 stl250 to Install 250 Cakes for the "Cakeway to the West"
 Year-Long Birthday Celebration Planned for St. Louis' 250th Anniversary Kicks Off at First Night
 St. Louis Launches New Initiative to Improve Housing Near Public Transit
 ALDI to Open New Store in Central West End
 Clayton Named a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community
 'St. Louis Light The Night Walk' Aims to be in Top 10 of 200 Walk Sites Across the Nation
 St. Louis Mosaic Project Focuses on Diversity and Contributions of Immigrants to Communities
 Concordia Seminary Students Day of Service at Community Gardens
 Metro and Partners Exploring New Type of Transit Service for St. Louis
 United Way Seeks Volunteers for 9/11 Day of Service & Remembrance
 Amnesty Project at STLCC to Include All Misdemeanor Warrants
 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis Cheers Abandoned Factory Cleanup
 Old North Raingarden Is Pilot Program in MSD's Project Clear
 Thousands Turn Out for PrideFest in Downtown St. Louis
 The Trestle in Old North St. Louis to Connect Region
 stl250 Unveils Year-Long Birthday Celebration Planned for St. Louis' 250th Anniversary
 3-D Artwork Inspired by Historic Eads Bridge Installed at Laclede's Landing Metro Station
 Historical Event Held at Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing
 11 Local Arts Organizations Receive Grants Through PNC Arts Alive!
 AT&T Closing the Technology Gap with Contribution to OASIS
 The Mission Continues Veterans and PNC Bank Employees Refurbish Early Childhood Education Center
 Second Annual City Mayhem Obstacle Course Challenge
 Streetcar Feasibility Study Unveiled at Moto Museum
 State Seeking Organizations to Serve Meals to Children During Summer Months
 Hardee's Crew and Fred Bird Helps Heat-Up St. Louis Hit Record High of $125,000
 'Reason for Freezin' Annual Polar Plunge Raises Over $85,200 for Special Olympics Missouri
 Gov. Nixon Announces $1.3 Million in Innovation High School Grants
 O'Fallon Park Recreation Complex Opens in North Saint Louis Community

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