Patient Advocates Provide Help When Needed - VA North Texas Health Care System
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Patient Advocates Provide Help When Needed

Loretta Tryon-Dread talking with Veteran Richard Rudolph and his wife Bonnie.
Monday, April 30, 2012

Not everyone is cut out to be a patient advocate. To show concern and compassion for our Nation's Veterans during moments of frustration takes a special kind of person – someone who can listen and act swiftly to solve problems. That’s what Veterans find when they visit the patient advocate's office.

Our resourceful patient representatives are eager to help Veterans with questions and concerns about hospital policies and procedures. They help Veterans learn what their rights and responsibilities are and also urge them to become active in their health care.

Richard Rudolph and his wife Bonnie have been coming to Dallas VA Medical Center for four years. One fateful day several weeks ago, they stayed longer than expected.

"We got locked in the patient advocates office on the day of the tornado," Bonnie said. "Me and Loretta are now tied together forever."

Speaking of Loretta Tryon-Dread, Mrs. Rudolph said Loretta was very helpful taking care of her husband's needs.

Loretta has been employed with the Department of Veterans Affairs for 36 years. Twelve of those years has been as a patient advocate. Loretta said the most rewarding part of her job is, "the satisfaction of knowing I've done something to assist a Veteran in getting the care they need."

The Rudolph's story is typical. Veterans often find closure for their problems after visiting with patient advocates, and some connect personally with the advocates. In fact, they often return to the office after their problems have been solved.

"Veterans stop by all the time to let us know how their situation turned out," Loretta said. "It’s always great to hear things worked in their favor."

Patient advocates do more than take complaints. Sometimes complaints need to go to higher levels and patient advocates can make it happen. They mediate between Veterans and staff. A large portion of their time is spent working as a clinical liaison between the Veteran and their families or representative and the health care system. They identify new problems, address existing ones and suggest solutions or alternatives. But that’s not all.

Sometimes, they're a shoulder to cry on.

"I remember helping the wife of a Veteran who had been diagnosed with cancer and all she needed was someone to listen," Loretta said. "After his death, she came back to say thanks. I am happy that I was able to be there for her."

To reach a patient advocate in:
Dallas: 214-857-0482
Bonham: 903-583-6216
Fort Worth: 817-730-0009

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