Customer Service - VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
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VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

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Customer Service

Patient Advocates

Our patient advocate program seeks to personally give you and your family the security of knowing someone is available to focus on your individual concerns and rights as a patient. We work directly with all departments on your behalf and can address your questions, problems or special needs quicker. If you, or a veteran you care for, have not been able to resolve important issues related to VA through other means of communications, please contact one of our highly-skilled patient advocates who will be eager to help you with your concern in a timely manner.

Marilyn Tarver-Rice, Patient Advocate

Marilyn Tarver-Rice

Patient Advocate

Michael C Marcus, Patient Advocate

Michael C Marcus

Patient Advocate

Paula Bibza, Patient Advocate

Paula Bibza

Patient Advocate

Alternatively, you may contact us through e-mail using the VA National Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS).

Additional Contacts

We strive to always provide the highest quality of care to the veterans of our nation who call this area home. We have established several additional programs to assist you with specific needs or questions.

Bernadette Pasquale, Ph.D., Former Prisoner of War Advocate

Bernadette Pasquale, Ph.D.

Former Prisoner of War Advocate

Heather Steele, Minority Veterans Program Coordinator

Heather Steele

Minority Veterans Program Coordinator

William W Smathers, VISN 4 OEF/OIF/OND Transition Patient Advocate

William W Smathers

VISN 4 OEF/OIF/OND Transition Patient Advocate

For a listing of additional contacts, please visit our phone directory.

Former Prisoner of War Advocate

In 1981, Congress passed the "Former Prisoners of War Benefit Act" that established an advisory committee on former prisoners of war and mandated medical and dental care. It also identified certain diagnoses as presumptive service-connected conditions for former POWs. Subsequent public laws and policy decisions by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs have added additional diagnoses to the list of presumptive conditions.

Former POWs can apply for compensation for their service-connected injuries, diseases, or illnesses by completing VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension. They can also apply online at

For more information, contact our FPOW Advocate, Bernadette Lauber, at 412-360-1290.

Minority Veterans Program

This program ensures that minority Veterans receive benefits and services on par with other Veterans, encounter no barriers or impediments in their attempts to access those services, and are treated with respect and dignity by VA service providers.

The Minority Veterans Program is designed to act as a mediator and facilitator. As such, the program does not process claims, handle equal employment complaints, or employee related issues. The program is dedicated to ensuring that all Veterans are aware of benefits, services and programs offered by the VA.

For more information, contact our Minority Veterans Program Coordinator, Heather Steele, at 412-822-3537.

VISN 4 Transition Patient Advocate

Every VISN 4 VA Medical Center supports a team of medical experts devoted to helping Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans adjust to civilian life. Case managers at every VISN 4 medical center offer returning service members confidential, one-on-one assistance with their health care concerns.

In addition, our transition patient advocate works specifically with OEF/OIF/OND Veterans to make sure that they understand their benefits and rights and get the health care services that they have earned and deserve.

Service members returning from Afghanistan or Iraq can also contact our transition patient advocate, Bill Smathers, at 412-551-9651

Thanks for a Good Job Card

Your feedback about the care and services you receive while in the Medical Center provides us an opportunity to make changes and improvements; Feedback gives you the opportunity to make a suggestion, and correct problems or give a compliment.

During your stay, you may be surveyed by one of our Patient Advocates. This is a short patient satisfaction survey asking for feedback about your perception of the care you are receiving.

You may answer your quick card anonymously, or you may provide your name and contact information if you would like us to contact you about the resolution of any issues.

Survey of Healthcare Experience of Patients

After your visit, you may receive a confidential questionnaire in the mail asking you about your most recent outpatient or inpatient treatment at our medical center.

Please use the survey to let us know of any concerns, complaints, or questions you have about your care, so that we can resolve them. We also appreciate compliments about what we are doing right.