Phoenix VA Director speaks about new improvements

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RimaAnn Nelson (Source: VA) RimaAnn Nelson (Source: VA)

She is the seventh director in less than three years at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs health system, brought in last October to lead the most scandal-plagued facility in the nation.

VA Director RimaAnn Nelson spoke to Good Morning Arizona Monday morning about what improvements and what progress is being made under her leadership to turn around the troubled department.

The Phoenix VA kicked off the infamous wait list scandal of 2014 that resulted in a nationwide audit.

Nelson said there had been improvements in the VA system since the scandal. 


“It’s gotten a lot better,” she said. “We made great strides in improving access to veteran's care and wait times.”

Nelson did admit that they have more work to do.

But Nelson stated the VA system opened two new clinics in the Phoenix area, and 900 employees were hired to their system.

"Proud to say that 37 percent of our employees are veterans themselves," she said. "But as more veterans enroll in our system, we need to continue to add more so we can stay ahead of the growth and maintain the access."

During her tenure in St. Louis, Nelson was criticized for her track record and a low satisfactory rate from patients. 

"I made some difficult decisions in St. Louis," Nelson said. "When things were not going right, I closed things down."

The director stated she was told by VA officials that she got the position because she made difficult decisions.

Nelson said she would continue to make difficult decisions and do whatever it takes to get things right for Valley veterans.

She added that she is open to hearing feedback from the employees. 

As for the veterans needing care, Nelson assures they will look forward to the improvements.

"We are here to serve them but also to thank them too."

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