McMorris Wants Clarification from VA Regarding Service Hours and Procedures

Dec 29, 2008

(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) sent a letter today to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson and Dennis “Max” Lewis, Director, VA Northwest Health Network, seeking answers to what happened the night of October 6th at the Spokane Veterans Medical Center regarding care to veteran Clinton Fuller. McMorris asked for a clarification of procedures, and stressed the need to do more to inform patients of the Urgent Care operating hours and capability. “This incident has raised questions about VA procedures and the availability of quality care for veterans,” said McMorris. “We need to make sure we are doing everything possible to give our Veterans the information they need and deserve regarding their care.”

A copy of the letter sent to Secretary Nicholson and Mr. Lewis follows:


I am concerned about the treatment of a veteran at the Spokane Veterans Medical Center (VAMC) on Friday, October 6th. This unfortunate incident highlights the need for better communication between the hospital and our local veterans regarding the hours of the VA Urgent Care Center.

My office was notified this past summer about the VA closing Urgent Care after hours. At that time, there were many issues raised about what will happen with veterans who need treatment past 4:30 p.m. Two weeks ago my office again inquired to the Director of the Spokane VAMC about these concerns. Sadly, I have heard from veterans that when they call the after hours phone number they are being told that the VA cannot advise whether or not to go to an emergency room and if the VA will pay for the service. My office was told there would be plans in place so that a good diagnosis could be made and determined if the veteran is having an emergency or not.

The VAMC needs to do better communicating with our veterans where to go for care when the clinic closes and provide them assurance that their costs are taken care of if they go to emergency room. We should be able to settle these concerns and get the best treatment for our veterans.  I want to know that the VA is doing the absolute best for our veterans and most importantly, talking to our veterans and making sure they are receiving adequate information about after hour services and coverage for costs. I look forward to your quick response to this request.

Best Wishes,

Cathy McMorris

Member of Congress

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