Northeast Indiana veterans deserve an answer: Did the Department of Veterans Affairs suddenly close down the inpatient and intensive care units at its Fort Wayne medical center because of deficient care or as part of yet another plan to change what is offered there?
Had this unexpected surprise occurred at any other VA medical center in the nation, that question should be answered.
But it is especially important in Fort Wayne, where VA officials have put area veterans on a long and unpleasant roller coaster ride, announcing several new plans for the center before inevitably changing them.
Doesnt anyone in the Department of Veterans Affairs understand what they are putting area veterans through?
Perhaps the most important and immediate question veterans have is whether the inpatient unit will ever reopen. The VA says the closing is only temporary – but why should anyone believe what the VA says about the Fort Wayne medical center? (See timeline, below.)
The VAs statement about using the closing, in part, to provide training and maintain a high standard of care hints there was something amiss about the quality of care. But when a spokes- woman says were just looking at improving our processes, veterans have every reason to question whether a different process would mean not better care at the medical center but moving inpatient care to another local hospital or to VA hospitals in Indianapolis and/or Ann Arbor, Mich.
Considering that the inpatient unit and ICU have just 32 beds between them, and that only five patients were affected by the closing, the VA would be right to question whether better inpatient care could be contracted at a local hospital for the same or even lower cost. But the low bed count and much lower patient count are nothing new, and the VA has had at least eight years – since first saying it would close the medical center – to figure that out.
Perhaps the building is just too old and underutilized to keep. Perhaps it could still function as a high-volume outpatient center.
At this point, what the VA chooses is not as important as making a decision and sticking with it rather than ineptly announcing one plan only to replace it with another.
Exactly why did the VA close the medical center?
Veterans who served their country – many of whom have long-term health problems because of that service – want and deserve an honest answer.