Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee during a hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs and Oracle Cerner’s electronic health record (EHR) system. In her testimony, Cathy highlighted the ongoing issues with the broken system, her concerns with patient care, and rumors about staff and services being reduced at the Mann-Grandstaff and Walla Walla Medical Centers.
Cathy also doubled down on her calls for the VA to pull the plug on the Oracle CernerEHR and go back to a system that works. Medical Directors Robert Fischer (Mann-Grandstaff) and Scott Kelter (Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial) were also witnesses at today’s hearing.
Cathy’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you Chairman Bost and Ranking Member Takano for holding this hearing today and giving me the opportunity to address the committee.
“The Oracle Cerner electronic health record system has been a complete failure. It has created more problems than it’s solved.
“From the very beginning, veterans in Eastern Washington have been sounding the alarm about the issues with the EHR. Prescription errors, Dropped appointments. Lost referrals. Costly mistakes that directly harmed nearly 150 veterans.
“150 men and women who risked their lives for our country were harmed by the very agency who promised to care for them upon their return.
“Irresponsible doesn’t even begin to describe it.
“To make matters worse, this broken system has completely demoralized employees who were not adequately trained on the new system. Providers and support staff have struggled to overcome the software glitches and constant outages.
“They’ve been hung out to dry while trying to help frustrated veterans navigate a system that they themselves are burdened by. For too many it’s become too much.
“A devastating amount of employees are quitting because they are exhausted and just can’t take it anymore.This is making bad staff shortages worse, creating longer wait times, and making it more difficult for veterans to get the care they need.
“This system has become such a problem that it’s consuming the budgets of our local VA facilities causing them to operate at a loss.
“For months, we’ve heard rumors of reducing staff and services to make the numbers work, which is not a solution that should even be on the table.While Secretary McDonough committed to me that this won’t happen, I need to reiterate that any cuts would be unacceptable.
“We’ve already invested billions of dollars into what was once a great idea that has unfortunately failed to achieve its sole purpose: improve health care for veterans in the United States.We’ve given the VA and Oracle Cerner every possible opportunity for improvement but the problems with this system are endless.
“Veterans in Eastern Washington have had enough. They are tired of being the guinea pigs in this failed experiment. They’ve pleaded for it to stop but their concerns and mine have been dismissed at every turn.
“The VA’s lack of all transparency has led to a devastating breakdown in trust amongst veterans. This must change. We owe it to our nation’s heroes to get this right.
“I believe that starts with pulling the plug on this deeply broken system and going back to one that works immediately. But until then, I am committed to making this work as best we can for our veterans who have no other choice.”
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