Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
GCVHCS Director New Year Letter
Veterans, caregivers, families and community members,
Firstly, I would like to convey my very best wishes and sincere thanks to all of you as we wrap up an eventful 2020 and shift our momentum into the next calendar year. The past 12 months have been marked by historic difficulty, not only locally but nationally as all of us have been impacted by a series of events which shaken our resolve and tested the very essence of our communities.
But as we think back on this past year, I believe that we have many reasons to have enormous pride in our accomplishments and look forward with enthusiasm to this next year at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS). Despite the difficulties we as an organization have faced, we have managed to adhere to the values we are sworn to uphold - the continued medical care of our nation's Veterans with integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence.
While this year will undoubtedly be remembered for the ongoing global health crisis and the weather events which impacted the Gulf Coast, we have adapted and ensured that we can still maintain the care of our nation’s Veterans through innovative programs and events.
We were able to host an enormously successful Women’s Night Out event at the Joint Ambulatory Care Center (JACC) in Pensacola, an event which showcased the capabilities we have in caring for our women Veterans, and the Veteran Family Expo, which provided family members a look at the services available to them through our organization.
Additionally, we had members of our GCVHCS team deploy to Puerto Rico in response to the earthquakes which ravaged the island nation earlier this year, a shining example of what our medical professionals will do to assist those in need.
And in March, at the beginning of the global health crisis, we looked at ways of ensuring our care for the Veterans we serve could continue.
We were able to leverage technology to continue seeing our Veterans virtually, a very successful venture which is shaping the future of medicine. Our acquisition of 3D printers enabled us to create our own personal protective equipment (PPE) an innovation which saved thousands of dollars and protected our medical professionals, directly enabling them to continue providing care to our Veterans.
And as recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines were adjusted, we developed ways for our staff and Veterans to interact with the communities we call home, putting together a physically distanced Family Cruising Parade for those Veterans in our Community Living Center (CLC), many of whom had not seen their friends and family members for months. Our successful Mobile Food Pantry – a drive-thru food distribution event through which our community partners provided generous donations of non-perishable items for our Veteran populations experiencing significant hardship during the ongoing global health crisis – represented another first for our organization, and underscored the importance of our ongoing partnerships with the communities we call home.
But our commitment to excellence isn’t relegated to just what is seen; the hundreds of employees working ‘behind the scenes’ are what make our organization successful. Members of our Police Service prevented what could have been a terrible tragedy through their unparalleled vigilance this year, and have maintained our safe environment through times of unrest, and our Environmental Management Service has adapted and excelled in the difficult task of maintaining the cleanliness of our facilities, and our administrative employees have managed to ensure our operations continue. These herculean efforts are all contributory to ensuring we’re able to continue providing care for those who have sacrificed so much, and I am proud and humbled to be a part of this organization, to be a part of this community which has such pride and appreciation for those who have worn the cloth of our nation.
We're entering a new year facing significant unknowns, but with the continued support of the community we call home, I am filled with hope at what this new year will bring. I thank all of those who have made the GCVHCS a part of their lives, whether as a Veteran receiving the care they deserve, as a volunteer generously donating their time and resources for our nation’s heroes, or as an employee of one of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) premier facilities.
I would like to wish each and every one of you a safe and prosperous New Year. Know that the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System staff is committed to our Veterans, and to the community in which we live. Thank you for your continued support of our health care heroes and thank you for including our nation’s Veterans in your wishes for the new year.
Bryan C. Matthews, MBA
Director, Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System