After reports of long wait times and a series of leadership turnovers, news about the Montana VA system is often concerning, however a new internal report shows strong signs of positive change.

"The VA, every quarter, releases an evaluation for the quality of care for VAs across the nation, this is called the Strategic Analytics and Improved Learning value model or SAIL, and what we found is that in just nine short months the Montana VA had some significant improvement and we were awarded a three star rating," said Montana VA Public Affairs Officer Mike Garcia.

Montana was given the lowest rating, just one star, last year in the bell-curve ranked SAIL evaluation. Garcia says the jump from one star to three is "practically unheard of."

"SAIL, in general, looks at 25 different quality measures, and some examples of that would be, death rate, complication, patient satisfaction," Garcia said. "Here in Montana, where we saw some of the most significant improvement in the last nine months comes in five key areas: mental health, continuity of care, health care associated infections, in-hospital complications, utilization management, and then the overall rating of the hospital, and that last one comes right from our in-patients."

Garcia says a new senior leadership team is “righting the ship” at the Montana VA, but admits the ultimate goal is a five star rating – an accolade achieved by just 12 VA facilities each year. Right now, Montana’s VA system is right in the middle of the pack.