In an effort to combat ongoing allegations of the over prescription of pain medication and employee retaliation, the Tomah VA is taking steps to help health providers closely communicate with patients.
Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the VA interim under secretary, kicked off Wednesday's pain management workshop, as hundreds of VA health providers gathered to learn communication skills to better properly diagnose veterans.
"The workshop is to provide tools for providers to help people dealing with chronic pain and those difficult discussions you have with those patients," John Rohrer, acting medical director, said. "Many patients feel like medication is the way to do it, but we have alternatives that we need to be able to communicate."
Dr. Clancy said sometimes doctors are quick to write prescriptions rather than have honest conversations with their patients.
"Sometimes it's easier to write a prescription than to start a conversation about taking less medication and trying some alternatives," she said.
John Rohrer is currently on a 120 day assignment at the VA and said he is building a foundation that he hopes his successor will continue to build upon.
"If I meet with veterans on Monday afternoons and I make that part of my schedule, the person that follows me can continue that too," he said. "The hope is that the trust will translate to whoever comes next. But that will take time."
Dr. Clancy said results of pending investigations into the Tomah VA should provide some answers within the next couple of months.