Regarding the April 10 news article “VA struggling to shorten waits”: Not long ago you also reported reduced hospital beds at local hospitals.
As a retired hospital executive, current health system board member and as a veteran of the New York Army National Guard, I suggest we connect these headlines and seek a common solution.
Health care trends demonstrate that fewer inpatient beds are needed and that those fewer patients needing hospitalization are very, very sick or badly injured (think ICU-type care versus 23-hour, rehab or outpatient facility care). Thus, running a sustainable high-quality hospital with highly trained staff, doctors and expensive technology in the face of limited or capped payments presents a tidal wave challenge to most hospitals, whether VA, nonprofit or for-profit.
Why not enable our veterans to receive their inpatient or outpatient health care more extensively from any contracted public or private hospital of their own choosing? The existing well-established administrative structures of Medicare, Social Security disability, etc., could be used to assure quality and costs, while “rightsizing” these two separate hospital worlds struggling with changing patient needs, lower payments and rapidly increasing costs.
All patients, including our veterans, might be better served, as well as communities, political leaders and taxpayers trying unsuccessfully to prop up two systems of health care.
Gino J. Pazzaglini