Alfonso S. Alarcon, MD was recently appointed as Director, Surgical and Specialty Care Integrated Clinical Community at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System.  Dr. Alarcon and St. Cloud V.A. Public Affairs Officer Barry Venable joins me on WJON today.  Alarcon says he's excited to join the staff and the St. Cloud V.A. after spending lots of time in different parts of the United State but limited time in the Midwest.  Dr. Alarcon enters VA service after retiring from a 30-year career as a surgeon and commissioned officer in the U. S. Army.

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Alarcon oversees around 125 people on the surgery side and specialty care side of the facility.  Alarcon described the services they offer including podiatry, ophthalmology, urology, ENT, plastic surgery, and general surgery.  Dr. Alarcon says they are currently looking for anesthesia providers specifically nurse anesthetists to get them back to their pre-Covid levels. Dr. Alarcon says they are doing the best they can to get through their surgical backlogs to better serve their veterans.

Veterans Hospital facilities throughout the nation in recent years had been criticized for long wait times.  Dr. Alarcon says waiting is an adherent part of medicine unfortunately but they are focusing on reducing non-value steps for veterans to reduce wait times.  He says they'd like to make the experience more veteran focused.  He says the goal is to increase veteran satisfaction and reduce wait times.

Barry Venable indicated that the St. Cloud V.A. has a virtual town hall scheduled for August 2 at 2 p.m. due to the pandemic.  He suggests that veterans look to their website for details.  Venable also says the V.A. is still offering the COVID-19 vaccine for those interesting in getting the shot.

Listen to my conversation with Dr. Alfonso Alarcon and Barry Venable below.



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