THE FIGHT ISN’T OVER – SAVING THE VA HOSPITAL

In an ongoing saga that seems to have no end, our VA Hospital is still being studied. This time it is the outpatient aspect that is drawing the attention of Booz, Allen & Hamilton, the Washington, D.C. firm that provided the infamous, redacted study that was “released” earlier this year.

This past week, our group of which I am director – Veterans for Better Health Care – was fortunate to be included in private hearings to discuss the outpatient component of our local VA Hospital’s care.

For those who may not know or remember the scenario that got us to this point -here is a brief time line.

  • The Capital Asset and Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission determines that inpatient care at the Fort Wayne VA Hospital should be closed (decision is made prior to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq)
  • May, 2004 – VA Secretary Anthony Principi announces that he will accept the CARES Commission decision to close inpatient care at the Fort Wayne VA Hospital
  • August, 2004 – Veterans for Better Health Care formed to fight CARES decision
  • August, 2004 to November, 2006 – public outcry puts pressure on elected officials to take action to fight Principi’s decision – also during this time period, Principi resigns and is replaced by Jim Nicholson as VA Secretary
  • June, 2005 – announcement made that new study will be done to reassess inpatient closing at our hospital
  • November, 2006 – Representatives of Booz, Allen & Hamilton arrive in Fort Wayne to undertake new study of inpatient issues
  • February, 2008 – November 2006 study results with 75% redacted is released to public
  • April, 2008 – Congressman Mark Souder hosts rally at the World War II Victory Museum in Auburn, Indiana, to answer concerns about the future of our hospital

This, ladies and gentlemen, has been a long fight, but we cannot give up. The burden on our veterans and their families to travel unwarranted distances to receive care is inexcusable. Fort Wayne is the second largest city in our state, and our hospital serves thousands of veterans, in both an inpatient capacity and an outpatient capacity. We serve veterans not only from this area but also from southern Michigan and northwestern Ohio.

This past week my group and I were privileged to again participate in a private meeting with the representatives of Booz, Allen & Hamilton. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the outpatient care at our hospital – an issue that was not addressed in the earlier study of inpatient care.

Wednesday night we were assured that this was NOT to be a stand-alone study and that it would be integrated into the earlier study of our inpatient care.

On Thursday – the day following the Wednesday night meeting – I had the opportunity to sit in on an orientation and learn the process covered when our discharged veterans, past and present, need to enroll to receive the benefits they were promised and they earned through service to our country.

For those who sometimes don’t understand the need for our hospital or, perhaps, believe our veterans would be better served by a two-hour trip to Indianapolis, the following are pictures of a full parking lot. Walk in any weekday and the waiting room is full. It is full of those who gave their time, their health, their limbs, and their sanity to serve on our behalf. They are those who “stand on that wall” and make sure we can sleep safely at night and, when we wake, that we can enjoy the freedoms that we exercise every day.

I ask you – does this look like an underused facility? Before you close this post and wander on to other exciting tasks and posts, take the time to write to your congressional representatives – senators and representatives. And even more critical right now, write to the folks at Booz, Allen & Hamilton – those people who hold the power of what happens to our hospital in their hands. Below is the contact information you will need. Now it is up to you to take the time to give back by supporting our veterans and our Fort Wayne VA Hospital.

Thank you for your help.

Send comments to: (This is Booz, Allen & Hamilton – the group preparing the study) – Comments are being collected through July 31, 2008.

VA Fort Wayne Study
P.O. Box 10171
Rockville, MD 20849

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Congressional members:

Richard Lugar, Senator

United States Senate

306 Hart Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20510

(DC) 202-224-4814

(IN) 317-226-5555

http://www.senate.gov/~lugar

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Evan Bayh, Senator

United States Senate

463 Russell Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20510

(DC) 202-224-5623

(IN) 317-554-0750

http://www.bayh.senate.gov

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Joe Donnelly, Representative (2nd)

House of Representatives

1218 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515

(DC) 202-225-3915

http://www.donnelly.house.gov

(Joe Donnelly is listed because his second district area feeds into our Fort Wayne VA Hospital.)

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Mark Souder, Representative (3rd)

House of Representatives

1227 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515-1403

(DC) 202-225-4436

(IN) 260-424-3041

http://www.souder.house.gov

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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5 Responses to THE FIGHT ISN’T OVER – SAVING THE VA HOSPITAL

  1. I see that consulting stupidity is alive and well and targeted at the VA Hospital. I want to say something like nice … but it’s not nice. It’s rotten to the core.

    Perhaps we ought to think about shutting down all but 2-3 in Texas (cause you know – I’m sure Mr. Bush wouldn’t mind consolidating the dozen facilities – and making the veterans there travel 2-3 hours).

    DC also has their own facility. They should buddy up with Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware and consolidate. Because within a 2-3 hour distance, you run into dozens of facilities (and no – not the administrative ones).

    Think of the money that could be saved! insert sarcasm here

  2. Kristina:

    In April, Souder held a rally in Auburn to try to explain the ridiculously redacted study released in February. There were over 300 people there – mostly veterans. And let me tell you, they were madder than hornets.

    We – the taxpayers – paid over a half million dollars for that study which we now are told was incomplete. Believe me, we are so tired of all of this. But my fear is that the minute we let down out guard, the VA will sneak in and close the inpatient beds.

    I try to attend the quarterly memorial service at the VA Hospital, and I have noticed that more and more of the deceased veterans are Vietnam era veterans. That means many of those surviving are now in their early 60s and on up. These older veterans who need care cannot make trip after trip to Indy for care. We desperately need this hospital with its inpatient and outpatient care.

  3. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Charlotte,

    I am not current on the never ending battle over the local VA. I come with a couple of questions that you may be able to answer for me.

    Currently we have about 16 inpatients at the local VA. How can we with any reasonable financial sense operate a fully operating hospital?

    Even if the number of inpatients doubled how could it be justified to operate a full service hospital?

    How many outpatient operations are done weekly or monthly (using the under 23 hour stay being consider outpatient)?

    What is wrong with the VA contracting with local hospitals to provide all inpatient care?

    If the local hospitals can provide the inpatient imediate care why can’t the extended and follow up care be housed at the current VA opertaion?

  4. J.Q.

    I can respond to some of your concerns. I am getting ready for work right now, but I will put together answers for you this evening when I get home.

  5. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Great and thanks

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