January 26, 2012

Save the Date for the VIVA Rally Feb. 16th

Image: VIST Logo

Join us for VIVA
Visually Impaired Veterans Access Rally
Thursday, February 16, 2012
9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Image: Santa Clara Valley Blind Center Logo

Santa Clara Valley Blind Center
101 North Bascom Avenue San Jose CA
For more information call
650.852.3467 or 408.295.4016

The VA Palo Alto Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) in conjunction with the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center are pleased to announce The Visually Impaired Veterans Access (VIVA) Rally at the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, 101 N. Bascom Ave., San Jose, CA, on Thursday, February 16, 2012, from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM. VIVA is a community event focused on providing first-line access and information to visually-impaired, low vision and blind veterans and Active-Duty Service Members (ADSM) of all eras.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Service provides veterans and ADSM with the latest in adaptive training and equipment for overcoming vision loss and related life challenges. Regardless of causality, period of service or degree of impairment, the VA provides services to over 3,000 veterans and ADSM in the VA Sierra-Pacific Health Care System. The VIVA Rally will feature premier services such as leading –edge research into a broad spectrum of rehabilitation and technology to benefit persons with vision loss. The 20-30 minute presentations will feature VA staff researchers specialized in the physical and psychological aspects of visual impairment. Following each presentation a Q&A opportunity will be provided. There are 4 key presentations scheduled and additional facilities are provided for showcasing the range of VA Rehabilitative skills offered at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center. Additionally, specialists in benefits and registration/eligibility will be available on site.

The event is open to all veterans, family members, caregivers and persons interested in assisting veterans with significant visual impairments.

Bus routes 61, 62, 23 - Minutes from Diridon Train Station.

January 25, 2012

January VIST Meeting Scheduled for Stockton Tomorrow

Image: VIST Logo
The Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) group is open to all veterans, Active-Duty Service Members, family members and those interested in promoting the community of B/VI veterans in the region are welcome. We have varying presentations and discussions of new technology, special training and many subjects relevant to B/VI persons.

The Stockton VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday January 26th from 10:30 am to 11:30 am at the address below:
Stockton Community Center for the Blind
Conference Room
130 W Flora St
Stockton, CA 95202
(209) 466-3836

January 23, 2012

Anatomy of a Move: Part 1

It has been over a month since WBRC moved from the Palo Alto to the Menlo Park VAPAHCS medical campus.  The plans for this move were developed several years ago due to the need for a larger facility to house the growing services provided at the WBRC.  Although the move was anticipated, it still seemed to go very quickly once the move dates were announced. 

Yurika Vu, WBRC CATs Instructor, packs a box
in preparation for the move.
The WBRC has been operational in building 48 at Palo Alto since 1978, so there was quite a bit of history in those walls.  There were many discoveries when sorting through the storage closets and the safe including the original building plans for 48, newspaper clippings, and photo albums.  

Ron Roderick, WBRC Manual Skills Supervisor,
cracks the safe in the conference room.
Staff worked to prepare for the move by packing office, storage, and training space.  The move was planned to occur in many stages with equipment, furniture, and boxes color-coded for each stage.  Most of the heavy equipment in the wood shop was moved first for installation at Menlo Park prior to our arrival.  The rest of the move would occur over five days with a different stage each day.

Dr. Greg Goodrich, WBRC Research Psychologist,
stands by as the move team moves a
saw from the wood shop on a cart.

The move to Menlo Park was both exciting and bittersweet for many of the staff members.  The last staff meeting held at Palo Alto was very special.  After completing the regular meeting, staff were provided with a variety of pens and were instructed to write their goodbyes on the walls of the conference room. 

Roz Conanan, WBRC Orientation and Mobility Instructor,
writes a message on the wall of the conference room
during the last staff meeting.

 After their initial surprise the staff each made their marks on the walls.  Some messages were funny, some sentimental, but all were certainly heartfelt.   

Check back next week for part 2

Written by: Summer Beasley-Hoffman, WBRC Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Photos by: Dan Nakamura, WBRC CNVR Specialist

January 9, 2012

WBRC LVN Completes VAPAHCS Emerging Leaders Development Program

Photo: Misty Blue Foster, WBRC LVN, poses with Lisa Freeman, VAPAHCS
Director at the celebration ceremony for completion of the Emerging
Leaders Development Program November 9th, 2011.

WBRC would like to congratulate Misty Blue Foster, WBRC LVN on her successful completion of the VAPAHCS Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) in November of 2011. 

What is the Emerging Leaders Development Program?
VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s 2011 Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) is a core component of the VA’s workforce development and succession planning strategic initiatives, and it is aligned with the High Performance Development Model and VHA leadership programs. Faculty includes key VAPAHCS leaders, staff and external consultants.  The focus is on developing a leadership skill foundation rather than management or supervisory skills.  The participants are competitively selected are limited to a total of 20 annually.  The program is six months in length with 11 formal classes and several projects including completion of a 180 Degree Assessment Tool, development and execution of a Personal Development Plan, a Group Presentation, and an individual Customer Service Project.  The purpose of the program is to provide leadership skills to individuals with recognized potential for higher-level leadership positions and to develop leaders who, through collective discovery and learning, will achieve the highest level of individual, team, and organizational performance.

An Interview with Misty Blue Foster, LVN

What were some of the core skills that you learned by participating in the ELDP?
I learned effective leadership skills, problem solving and conflict resolution, project management, team building, how to motivate others, how to inspire others, to create a vision, how to keep up morale, hiring techniques for success, success principles, setting life goals, educational goals, and career goals, and how to remain motivated to name a few things.

Did you have guidance or mentorship throughout the program?
I had an assigned mentor, Debbra Yamaguchi, Administrative Officer of Nursing, who worked with me to develop a PDP. A PDP is a personal development plan, and I had to make 2 goals each for each goal of the VA High-Development Core Competencies Model. The goals extend out for two years after completion of ELDP. I also received support from Deb Gitter, Chief of Rehab Nursing; Sandy Kemp, Supervisory HR Specialist; Richard Wing BSN, MSHCA, Nurse Manager for WBRC; and other participants in ELD.  It took a lot.  I was also in C.R.E.W (another staff training program) and full time in school while this was all going on. Very hectic!

What was your individual Customer Service Project?
I had 4 months to complete a customer service project. This was an independent project which needed to be broad-reaching and implementable. I decided to develop an all-electronic documentation plan for the WBRC nursing department.  I wanted to use technology to replace our paper charting methods in order to increase communication, streamline record keeping, and eliminate patient confidentiality breach risks.  This included creating an electronic Nursing Communication Log, launching a computerized Change of Shift Report Database, implementing a program to scan documents and electronically capture patient consent signatures into our computerized patient record system, and creating specialized report templates which were added to our computerized patient record system.  All of these changes and new technology such as the scanner and signature pad were introduced to the WBRC RN Staff in a formal project presentation.  My Chief of Staff and RN Manager endorsed the project and we are currently in the process of training all of the WBRC RN staff and launching the all-electronic documentation plan.        

What are some of the benefits of this all-electronic documentation plan?
Paper charting is a very outdated method which puts patient information at risk of confidentiality violations.  By changing to an all-electronic documentation process we eliminate any risk of patient confidentiality being compromised.  The patient information is protected by a verify code and password which are assigned to each staff member.  The new electronic systems we have implemented as a result of this project are user friendly.  It is simple to enter patient and shift information, to edit information, and all the information for each patient for each shift readily available in an easy to use and easy to read digital format.  Another benefit is that any documents from an outside provider can be scanned into the patient record, consolidating all of their records into one place, and making it accessible to their VA Providers.  This ensures patient confidentiality and increases the quality of medical services provided to our Veterans.

January 6, 2012

Blast From the Past: 1978 WBRC Open House Article

Image: Palo Alto Times newspaper clipping from 1978

Brian Higgins, WBRC CATs Supervisor, found this 1978 Palo Alto Times newspaper clipping while unpacking from our recent move to Menlo Park.  The short article titled ‘VA Blind Center Slates Open House’, describes a WBRC open house scheduled for February 21, 1978, shortly after the WBRC moved from Menlo Park to a newly constructed building [48] on the Palo Alto hospital grounds.  Following below is a typed copy of the article in it's entirety.

‘VA Blind Center Slates Open House’
               [February 17th, 1978] The new $2.9 Million Western Blind Rehabilitation Center at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital has planned an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.
                The building is the first in the VA system designed and built exclusively for dealing with problems related to blindness and low vision.
                The two-story building, located on the northwest portion of the grounds of the Palo Alto VA hospital, has 38,000 square feet of floor space.  It’s unusual F-shaped design makes it easier for the blind veterans to learn their way around.
                Other features include distinct color schemes enabling low vision patients to distinguish readily between sections within the building, individually controlled lighting and temperature and piped in music.
                The center can accommodate up to 30 inpatients, both men and women.  It serves veterans from the western states.
                At the open house, representatives from the VA central office in Washington, D.C., the Palo Alto VA hospital and the American Foundation for the Blind will participate in a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m.  At 3 p.m. the doors will be open to the public.  The Staff and patients will be available to answer questions.
                The center provides a multidisciplinary, individualized treatment of the problems of adjusting to loss of sight.  Programs include providing the visually impaired veteran with alternative methods of communicating, developing sensory and organizational skills and self confidence, teaching the blind to travel safely and independently, providing recreational activities such as swimming and bowling, and assisting the veteran’s adjustment into his family and community.
                In addition, the center focuses on research and development of devices to alleviate the difficulties experienced by people adjusting to sight loss.