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U.S. Veterans Secretary Denis McDonough praises Asheville Veterans Medical Center on visit to WNC

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough at Asheville VA Medical Center
U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough at Asheville VA Medical Center

The Asheville VA is one of the best high performing facilities in the VA system. U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said at a visit to the facility on Thursday.

“Let me just tell you about two really important indicators that we track across the entire VA.” McDonough said. Asheville scores highest among all of those VA hospitals across the country in veteran satisfaction with the care they receive, he said.

“Right now in fact, it has a 95% trust rating with its veteran patients,” he said.

McDonough also praised the facility’s staff satisfaction, noting that is “the highest among any VA facility as the best place to work in the federal government.”

McDonough said the center has embraced innovation in patient care.

“I just learned that the use of virtual reality in healthcare and the VA system started right here in Asheville,” McDonough explained. “The person who started that was a young new employee at the time. She still works here.”

The medical center was the first VA in the nation to couple virtual reality with nerve blockers in lieu of general anesthesia, according to 2022 reporting by Mountain Xpress.

The secretary finished his day with a roundtable at UNC Asheville with veteran students, faculty, and staff to discuss health care and benefits including a new change in the GI Bill.

“My whole purpose in going to see the student veterans today is to hear from them how we're doing in support of them and what more they might need,” McDonough said.

Jose Sandoval is the afternoon host and reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio.