VA Hospital's new director talks change

Elizabeth Goolsby

July 15, 2010 8:53:58 PM PDT
Fayetteville's VA Medical Center introduced its latest director on Thursday. The new director of the VA Hospital is already speaking out about the changes she hopes to make at the center.For the last several years, the hospital has been plagued with problems, from complaints about the staff to a revolving door of directors.

The fifth director for the hospital since 1996, Elizabeth Goolsby says she knows she inherits a medical center with problems, but she says she will improve the Ramsey Street hospital, because she knows the needs of veterans.

"What the veterans have been telling me is that they appreciate the fact that we are going to increase access to health care, so they won't have to travel a great distance to receive primary and mental health care," Goolsby said.

The VA says more than 170,000 veterans live in communities around Fort Bragg and the ranks of vets are growing 4 percent a year. It's those numbers that make the medical center critical to veterans' health care.

So, the VA is opening several new outpatient clinics throughout southeastern North Carolina.

In the meantime, Goolsby says she is addressing complaints of substandard medical care, inadequate equipment, low morale among staff and patients' complaints of rude caregivers.

"Rudeness is not acceptable, we are here to serve and our patients will be treated with respect and with dignity," she said. "The vast majority are here to take care of America's heroes, and they do exemplary work. Those few who are not on the same page with us, will not continue to be in the same book."

Goolsby is meeting with employees, veterans, and community groups and promises changes. She says cleaning up the medical center's reputation will be her biggest challenge.

"It's going to take a long time, it's going to take a lot of effort and a joint partnership in order to get where we want to be, but we will get there and we will require the community to help us get there," Goolsby said.

It is good news for veterans who say they're encouraged by Goolsby's plan for long term improvements. They say she has the qualifications and the right attitude to get the job done.

Goolsby has served three tours at Fort Bragg and has lived in Fayetteville as well as Fort Bragg.

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