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Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System



Perry McLaird holding his innovative come-along.

CAVHS employee Perry MacLaird talks about his innovative “tag along” device, designed to connect unwieldy IV poles to beds or wheelchairs during patient transportation. MacLaird’s idea is one of six from CAVHS employees that have been selected to receive development grants as part of the VA’s national Spark – Seed – Spread program.

By VA Photo by Jeff Bowen
Monday, April 30, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas. Seven Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS) employees have been given the opportunity to plant a seed of innovation as part of the VA’s modernization program, and will receive growth funds to develop their ideas.

Shauna Haynes, Alyssa Welch, JoEtta Powell, Blake Davidson, Lori Davis and Stephen Pennington, and Perry MacLaird, along with 24 CAVHS innovators, presented ideas and programs as part of the VA’s Spark – Seed – Spread Innovation Funding Program. Of the 31 proposals, six were chosen by national VA judges to receive funding for further development.

Haynes, Welch, Powell, Davidson and MacLaird each will receive a grant of up to $10,000 at the Spark level. At this level, funding helps the innovators develop initial proof of concept ‘prototypes’ that could solve a presented problem or develop a new process.

Davis and Pennington will receive a grant of up to $50,000 at the Seed level, which allows testing of a concept in the form of a pilot project.

The top level provides Spread grants of up to $200,000 for implementation and scaling of successful project across the VA system. The funding covers the spreading, diffusion or scaling of innovative ideas to other sites at the VA.

As part of the Spark – Seed – Spread program, the VA has created an Innovators Network that provides a safe space for front-line VA employees to test new ideas and join forces with stakeholders across the Veteran community to improve the way VA serves Veterans. CAVHS is one of 33 VA Innovators Network sites across the US.  CAVHS’ Shannon Verch and Ken Collins lead the CAVHS Innovation Program and provide help, direction and support to efforts to modernize the medical center.

“We are very proud of our innovators and excited that we have six proposals that have been selected at the national level for funding” said Dr. Margie Scott, Medical Center director. “Great ideas come from great employees and everyone who submitted ideas are leading us into a future focused on serving Arkansans.”

Haynes idea, Mentor Match, is to develop a prototype computer software program that matches mentors and mentees within the employee population using social psychology similar to social matching software. The program uses factors such as learning style, personality, interests, background and experience which will initially be tested with new hire registered nurses.

Welch is developing a Veteran engagement solution for CAVHS’ Community Living Center that involves a closed-circuit multimedia system for broadcasting everything from concerts to bingo to car shows that will allow Veterans who cannot travel to participate in these activities.

Powell is looking to develop modern technology for central line tracking that can scan and track placement of central venous lines within the facility. This will boost patient safety to an even higher level, providing enhanced data collection, streamlined documentation and increased efficiency within clinical and informatics-based personnel.

Anderson is looking to implement a sustainability program for the reprocessing and remanufacturing of single-use medical devices that will reduce waste and save money, while ensuring patient safety guidelines are met or exceeded.

McClaird is developing an IV pole hitch mechanism that connects IV poles to beds or wheelchairs during transportation of patients, allowing staff to focus on the Veteran instead of diverting their attention to managing two different rolling devices.

Davis and Pennington have developed Operation Never Alone, a project that redefines how health care professionals view, treat and sustain mental health wellness and suicide prevention. Operation Never Alone uses hand-held smart devices as interactive screening tools and a holistic care approach to establish state-of-the-art community health care standards.

As part of the Spark – Seed – Spread program, each funded idea must be truly innovative, able to deliver value, feasible to implement, important to our Veterans, portable and scalable, supported by stakeholders, and measurable. Each of the six funded ideas have been entered into the national VA Innovators Network Accelerator for further development.

More information may be found at



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