VA doctors to treat patients outside hospital; new town hall meeting scheduled

  • The Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center is seen July 17, 2017, the same day a group of veterans met with the hospital's new leader, Alfred Montoya, who is currently director of the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt. Director Danielle Ocker and Chief of Staff James Schlosser were removed from their positions following a report in the “Boston Globe” that alleged the hospital was endangering patients. NICK REID

Associated Press
Published: 8/15/2017 12:29:10 PM

The Manchester Veterans Administration Medical Center will hold a town hall meeting next week to hear concerns from veterans and their families and update them on changes underway at the facility.

The meeting Aug. 23 in Rochester is the latest effort from the VA to regain the trust of veterans after a complaint filed by physicians alleging substandard care at the state’s only medical center for veterans.

They described a fly-infested operating room, surgical instruments that weren’t always sterilized and patients whose conditions were ignored.

Several top executives at the hospital have been removed. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, on a visit to the center earlier this month, also highlighted $30 million in funding to the facility including repairs to flood-damaged areas. During that visit, he said a task force was being formed to explore bringing a full-service veterans hospital to New Hampshire, teaming up with other hospitals in the state or forming a public-private partnership.

On Monday, Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order allowing VA physicians to temporarily treat patients at outside facilities, after a burst pipe caused severe flooding at the hospital last month.

Catholic Medical Center agreed to allow VA providers to use their hospital to perform endoscopies and other same-day procedures while the flood damage is repaired. But under New Hampshire licensing requirements, doctors with out-of-state medical licenses can practice only at the VA hospital.

Sununu’s executive order temporarily lifts those requirements for about eight months so VA doctors can see patients at CMC and elsewhere.

“The state of New Hampshire is committed to delivering results for New Hampshire’s veterans,” said Sununu, a Republican. “This executive order provides for a continuum of services for our veterans, and we will stop at nothing to deliver the best care. Period.”

Al Montoya, the VA hospital’s acting director, said the order will result in greater access to care for veterans. Dr. Joseph Pepe, president and CEO of Catholic Medical Center, said his hospital is proud to step up for veterans.

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