Washington, D.C. (February 3, 2022) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today called on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to immediately delay the rollout of the Cerner Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) system to the Walla Walla VA Medical Center.
For months, Cathy has urged the VA to make critical improvements to the broken system that is making life more difficult for veterans in Eastern Washington. Despite a long list of unresolved issues, the system is expected to go live at the Walla Walla VAMC in the coming weeks.
Below are excerpts from Cathy’s letter to Secretary McDonough:
“More than a year after Mann-Grandstaff went live on the system, most of the productivity, patient safety, and morale impacts still have not been resolved. While the system outages have somewhat improved, fundamental problems, especially in pharmacy, have not been addressed. Veterans in my district continue to struggle with delayed and erroneous prescriptions, as well as bottlenecks in referrals to specialists or community care.
“Bottom line, the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) transition is still making life harder on veterans and VA providers, not easier, and until these problems are fixed, its continued roll-out should be delayed. Therefore, I am asking you to immediately delay the deployment of the Cerner electronic health record system to Walla Walla until VA leadership can demonstrate its readiness and effectiveness. If the new electronic health record delivers anything short of the gold-standard, timely care our veterans deserve, then it is not ready to serve the Walla Walla community – not until any and all outstanding issues are resolved.”
Cathy also repeated her request for either Secretary McDonough or Deputy Secretary Donald Remy to accompany her on a visit to Eastern Washington as soon as possible.
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS:
- In March 2021, Cathy called for a review of the Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane after hearing an increasing number of complaints and pleas for help from veterans in Eastern Washington.
- Her request was immediately agreed to by Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough.
- In May 2021, Cathy continued to advocate for veterans, working to restore 24/7 urgent care and to address the community care backlog at the Mann-Grandstaff medical center.
- In June 2021, the review was completed and revealed problems at Mann-Grandstaff that must be resolved before the system is deployed at additional VA sites.
- In July 2021, Cathy called for increased transparency around the 90-day strategic review of the Cerner EHRM at Mann-Grandstaff and urged Secretary McDonough to address concerns around the real improvements that have yet to be made to the system
- In September 2021, Cathy spoke with Deputy Secretary Remy directly after the VA failed to respond to her July letter, pressing him to focus on resolving the problems identified in the strategic review.
- In November 2021, Cathy testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee and encouraged Deputy Secretary Remy to join her on a visit to the Mann-Grandstaff. The deputy secretary later canceled the visit.