Woman has waste-cutting idea for Obama

QUICKREAD

How to vote

Go to http://www.saveaward.gov and click on “Start Voting.” To cast your vote, click the “Next” button to get to Nancy Fichtner’s page. Deadline for voting is   9:59 p.m. Thursday



Loma resident Nancy Fichtner wants to meet the president of the United States, and she needs help from fellow Coloradans to do that.

The support clerk in the fiscal department at the Grand Junction Veterans Medical Center is one of four national finalists in a new program launched by President Barack Obama and the Office of Management and Budget to find ways to save tax dollars and operate federal agencies more smoothly.

If she wins, Fichtner will be presented with a certificate from Obama, and that will mean a special trip to the White House for her and her two children, Alex, 19 and Kasey Ann, 16.

The 55-year-old’s idea for reducing waste? Allowing patients at VA hospitals and other federally run medical facilities to take home simple medications that they’ve already been using.

“Now, when the patient leaves the hospital, his medications, larger medications such as inhalers and ointments, are discarded,” said Fichtner, who has worked at the hospital for six years. “That’s kind of a big waste. I came up with the idea to put a label on it for the patient to have his instructions so when he leaves the hospital he can commence with it.”

Fichtner estimates the federal government can save millions not only on the cost of the medications, but also on no longer having to treat it as harzardous waste, which costs far more than merely throwing something away.

For Fichtner to win, she needs as many people as possible to vote for her on a special Web site about the program. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, she was leading, and the deadline to vote is 9:59 p.m. Thursday. The winner is to be announced later this month.

That program, Securing Americans Value and Efficiency, was launched in a speech Obama gave last spring. Since then, more than 38,000 ideas have poured in to the Office of Management and Budget, which has reviewed each and even passed many on to various government agencies.

“The SAVE award is about improving how government operates by drawing upon the wealth of knowledge of our frontline workers who are seeing day in and day out what’s working and what’s not,” Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said in a statement.

Other finalists are:

An Alabama woman for the Social Security Administration who suggested that money could be saved by scheduling appointments online.

A West Virginia National Forest worker who came up with an idea to streamline how visitor fees and other funds are deposited into government accounts.

And an Alaska man who came up with a way to limit redundant inspections of subsidized housing units.

“There’s four suggestions to choose from, and of course, mine is the VA,” Fichtner said. “So please vote for me.”


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