West Texas VA Closing Inpatient Care 8/9/13
August 9, 2013
“That’s a key element of a hospital,” said Big Spring Mayor Larry McLellan.
All 20 beds are empty and the VA says it’s not because of a lack of inpatient care.
“We’re not closing inpatient care. What we’re doing is relocating it and placing it closer to veterans homes,” said Andrew Welch, Interim Director of the West Texas VA.
McLellan believes the service should be available for vets at the VA.
“I just can’t imagine why we don’t treat vets in vet facilities,” he said.
The inpatient beds haven’t been used since February of 2012. If a vet came to the VA and needed inpatient care they would have to go to Scenic Mountain Hospital.
When veterans use other hospitals they must fill out paperwork to receive the same benefits. That can add a lot of red tape to the process.
“You have to go through the process ahead of time and how many of these vets know that and are able to deal with all the paperwork,” McLellan said.
“Many of our community partners are immediately calling us when a vet comes in. So we learn about that very early on in the admission and we to work with them to the best of our abilities,” Welch said.
McLellan is also worried this cut to services could lead to bigger cuts and hurt the cities economy. The city benefits from a boost in sales tax when veterans come into town for care.
“Once you chip away at one service you know what’s going to be next?,” he said.
Welch says there are no such plans. In fact, he says the VA is actually expanding services.
“We’re expanding in many areas. Telehealth is probably the best one. We’re providing more and more care to our veterans to where they don’t have to travel across West Texas,” he said.