February 24, 2010

VA Will Temporarily Halt Southern Oregon Health Care Reductions, Discuss Future Care with Local Residents

Washington, D.C. -- The Veterans Administration has agreed to halt any further reductions to emergency room or inpatient services at the Roseburg VA Medical Center until it discusses the changes with local communities and residents.

The agreement was reached following a meeting between Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Dr. Susan Pendergrass, director of the VA's VISN 20. VISN is the Veterans Integrated Services Network.

"I appreciate the VAs willingness to halt any further changes in health care until it can discuss the proposal with the communities most directly affected," Wyden said. "My office will also work with Dr. Pendergrass on how best to address the concerns raised by the VA's earlier decisions."

Last month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it is considering the elimination of emergency and inpatient services at the Roseburg VA Medical Center, which provides healthcare services for tens of thousands of veterans living in Central and Southern Oregon and Northern California. Reducing the services available at the Roseburg facility will put Oregon's rural veterans at a further disadvantage, compromising their health, putting their employment at risk and putting pressure on already financially struggling local hospitals.

Wyden expressed concern about what the proposed changes would do to the quality of health care for veterans, pointing out that nearly 3,000 new veterans are returning from Iraq this year and from Afghanistan in future years.