McMorris Rodgers Calls for Explanation Behind Reduced Hours at the Spokane VA Emergency Department
WASHINGTON DC–Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) sent a letter today to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald seeking an explanation for the recent reduction of hours at the Spokane VA Emergency Department. This week the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center announced starting December 1, 2014 the Emergency Department’s hours will go from 24/7 to 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and that the Spokane VA will no longer accept patient emergencies via ambulance.
“The veterans in our community have made innumerable sacrifices to protect and defend our country, and we show these heroes our appreciation by providing them quality and compassionate treatment. That’s why I’m troubled by the proposed changes at the Spokane VA, which limit veterans’ access to care. We must take every action to keep our veterans in Eastern Washington safe, and I urge Secretary McDonald to provide clarification about how these decisions were made. The needs of our heroes must always come first – today and every day –and my commitment to our veterans remains steadfast.”
The Congresswoman’s letter to Secretary McDonald is attached and pasted below.
The Honorable Robert A. McDonald
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20420
Dear Secretary McDonald:
I would like to congratulate you on your recent confirmation—I know you are committed to caring for our nation’s veterans and I look forward with working with you. Earlier this week, the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington announced changes in the operations of the Emergency Department. Specifically, starting December 1, 2014, the Emergency Department’s hours of operation will be curtailed from 24/7 to 8:00 am -6:00 pm, seven days per week. Additionally, the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center will not accept patient emergencies via ambulance.
Our veterans, our nation’s heroes, have made innumerable sacrifices to protect and defend our country. One way to demonstrate our appreciation is by providing them with quality and compassionate care and treatment. However, there is a crisis of confidence on the part of many veterans in Eastern Washington and across our nation who no longer feel that the VA is willing and able to provide them with timely care. As the Department of Veterans Affairs seeks to rebuild this trust, I have concerns with the proposed changes at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center and am writing to seek further clarification about how this decision was made.
1. What actions prompted the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center to reduce the Emergency Department’s hours?
2. What numbers or data did the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center use as justification for the reduction in the Emergency Department’s hours?
3. Did the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center seek counsel from representatives within the VISN 20 network or from anyone in Washington, D.C. before making this decision?
4. For families who take their veterans to the Emergency Department at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center during the nighttime hours, will there be an ambulance available to transport the veterans to another community hospital?
5. In the event that a veteran obtains emergency care in the community as a result of the reduction in the Emergency Department’s hours, will the Department of Veterans Affairs cover the cost of care? If so, what will be the process for the impacted veteran to recover the cost of care they received outside of the VA?
As we prepare to recognize and honor Eastern Washington’s veterans on Tuesday-Veterans Day, I want to make certain that those who have served our country receive the care, support, and benefits that they were promised and that they have earned. I look forward to hearing your response.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Member of Congress