Fichtner shows government how to pinch pennies

Congratulations to Nancy Fichtner of Loma. The support clerk at the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center won a national contest — and a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the president— for her idea to save money in Veteran’s Affairs hospitals.

The idea seems simple enough: Instead of paying to dump untold amounts of medications when patients are discharged from VA hospitals, and have unused portions of the medicines they were prescribed in the hospitals, let the patients take the medications home.

But, bureaucracies being bureaucracies, there’s always a reason why simple ideas can’t be easily implemented. In this case, the hospitals’ electronic labeling system did not allow for adding guidelines for patients being discharged on dosage amounts and frequency for medications they might take home. So many of those medications had to be discarded as hazardous waste.

Fichtner’s solution is to make some modifications to the electronic labeling system, and allow the 153 VA hospitals around the country to save perhaps millions of dollars.

Her idea was one of four finalists chosen from more than 38,000 suggestions by government workers for ways that federal agencies could save money. The suggestions were solicited through a program called Securing Americans Value and Efficiency, or SAVE.

Fichtner’s proposal received the most votes on a White House Web site related to the SAVE program, and therefore she won the trip to the nation’s capital to present her idea in person to President Barack Obama later this month. It is expected to be included in the 2011 budget.

Great job, Nancy, not only for coming up with the idea but for being persistent enough to keep pursuing it.


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