McMorris Rodgers Calls for Review of Broken Electronic Health Record System at Spokane VA

Mar 17, 2021

Washington, D.C. (March 17, 2021) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough urging him to review the Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane. 

In the letter, Cathy writes, “I am hearing an increasing number of complaints and pleas for help coming into my Spokane and Colville offices. They typically concern the same issues: prescriptions, the new patient portal, and training. I am getting reports of veterans not receiving their prescriptions when needed or receiving the wrong prescriptions. I have one report of a VA doctor ordering a veteran two medications, but he received 15 erroneous medications. I have multiple reports of prescriptions being delayed, which in one case caused a veteran to suffer withdrawal. These impacts are dangerous and unacceptable.”

She continued, “These problems seemed to be caused by VA staff struggling with ordering medications in the system as well as veterans and their families being confused by the Cerner patient portal. This patient portal is not only unfamiliar but less functional than the old VA patient portal. Nurses who go to work every day to serve our veterans should not be driven to tears because software, which was intended to be an improvement, makes their jobs more difficult.”

In the letter, Cathy also requested the answers to the following questions:

  1. How does the VA assess the current staffing situation at Mann-Grandstaff in primary and specialty care, and what are your recruitment goals this year?
  2. What is the productivity level now at Mann-Grandstaff compared to before the Cerner EHR was installed in October 2020?
  3. What steps are being taken to protect staff morale and retention while the disruption from the EHR implementation is being addressed? 
  4. What training resources are currently available at Mann-Grandstaff from the VA and Cerner?
  5. What infrastructure improvements are still ongoing at Mann-Grandstaff?
  6. What plans are in place to ensure access to the ICU, psychiatric services, dental care, and to reach 24-hour urgent care capability?

Read her full letter here.


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