Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Awarded 3-Year Accreditations for Vocational Rehabilitation and Health Care for Homeless Veterans Programs

January 4, 2006

HOUSTON - The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) was notified in December that it was awarded three-year CARF accreditations for its Mental Health Care Line's Vocational Rehabilitation and Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Programs.

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is a private, not-for-profit organization that grew out of a need in the medical and vocational rehabilitation fields to promote quality programs for people with disabilities and others in need of services. CARF is committed to developing and maintaining practical, customer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality, value, and optimal outcomes in the lives of the persons they serve. A three-year accreditation is the highest level of accreditation an organization may be awarded.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program at the MEDVAMC is committed to assisting veterans with psychiatric or physical disabilities reach their highest level of vocational productivity. The goals of the program include providing structured vocational evaluations; improving pre-vocational skills such as adhering to a work schedule, working cooperatively with others, and accepting supervision; reducing psychiatric and physical symptoms; preventing relapse and/or hospitalization; improving self-esteem; enhancing quality of life; and returning veterans to competitive employment. In the survey summary, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program had no recommendations and four exemplary commendations.

The HCHV Program at the MEDVAMC is committed to assisting homeless veterans with chronic mental illnesses reach their highest level of functioning. Treatment goals for each veteran are individualized and may include meeting their immediate basic needs of food and protective housing; stabilization of mental health problems including substance abuse treatment and sobriety maintenance; individual and group psychotherapy; evaluation for financial disability benefits; vocational assessment; gainful employment; and schooling or a training program. In the CARF survey, the HCHV Program also had no recommendations and an astounding 14 exemplary commendations, a number seldom awarded to a rehabilitation program. 

MEDVAMC was recognized for strengths in many areas. One surveyor indicated that in his 13 years of performing CARF Surveys, he had never given so many exemplary commendations nor had he ever rated an entire section as high as he did with MEDVAMC’s Case Management/Service Coordination.  

“I would also like to point out that the team members of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Health Care for Homeless Veterans Programs were recognized for their dedication and commitment to the rehabilitation process and to their patients,” said Joseph Hamilton, M.D., Mental Health Care Line executive.

The survey team commented that patients and family members consistently expressed positive comments and their heartfelt responses exemplified the genuine interest the MEDVAMC staff members had in the overall well-being and quality of life of their patients.

“I am very proud the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has received such important recognition,” said Thomas B. Horvath, M.D., F.R.A.C.P., MEDVAMC chief of staff. “The staff members of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program and the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program are top-notch. I am pleased we serve as such a positive example for other hospitals.”

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