Chats with the Chief features VHA Chief of Staff Jon Jensen as he talks with key players about the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and how it serves America’s Veterans. In this episode, Jensen is joined by VHA Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Services Dr. Kameron Matthews, who talks about the process of transitioning to new roles and prioritizing diversity in medicine.

Matthews opens with a proud mention that she is “from Philly” and a diehard Eagles fan: “That will never change,” she says, before transitioning into her physician father as an early influence. He’s a “huge role model for me,” she continues.

Matthews covers her early career in Chicago before joining VA. At the Cook County Jail, she was a correctional physician and chief medical officer.

Dr. Kameron Matthews on Chats with the Chief.

Dr. Kameron Matthews speaks with Chief Jon Jensen.

Spoiler alert: Her husband had something to do with a mural at the Metro stop right outside of VA’s DC headquarters that features a Buffalo soldier among other images.

About her present position: “I work with the clinical leaders from around the country. The frontline professionals have a level of excellence that is just unprecedented.”

On COVID-19: “The ability for this health system to use all of that expertise has been displayed during the pandemic. We really pulled together and responded wonderfully in an unprecedented manner. Our responsiveness to the pandemic, whether it be under clinical services or community care, is what we need to celebrate.”

Matthews also discusses what has been done right throughout VA.

“We pivoted to paying claims differently and at different rates, we really assessed how we were paying the nursing homes, both contracted as well as Veterans homes. We immediately started pivoting so we would allow more telehealth in the community with the community care providers,” she says. “There’s no reason to limit any services during this public health crisis.”

Matthews also points out that VA is about equitable treatment of all Veterans and staff. “We need to be looking at recruitment and retainment efforts within our staff, but also how diversity, inclusion and equity impacts Veterans and their health outcomes.”

The full episode is in the video above.

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