The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has ranked the VA Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS) in West Haven, Conn., first in the country among the system’s tertiary facilities for its clinical care.

“We’re not one of the largest or most well-funded facilities, but we tend to be very efficient and provide outstanding care,” says Gary Desir, M.D., professor of medicine and chief of medical services at the VACHS. “The challenge is going to be that our patient population is increasing yet our funding is not, so we have to maintain the same level of care but with fewer resources.”

The VACHS, one of 153 VA hospitals nationwide, achieved a perfect score in performance measures in three of nine categories: acute myocardial infarction, tobacco screening, and heart failure. For behavioral health screening, community-acquired pneumonia, and surgical complications it achieved a rating of “exceptional.” For diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and heart-disease prevention, the VACHS, which has a long-standing affiliation with the School of Medicine, also had very high ratings.

There are more than 200,000 visits to VACHS clinics each year. The hospital offers a full range of medical, surgical, and psychiatric services to veterans, with particular strengths in epilepsy, stroke, rehabilitation for the blind, posttraumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, schizophrenia, and virology. In addition, its medical research program is the second-largest in the VA system.