VA Offers Clinic and Call Center to Keep Jobs in Hot Springs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has released its Final Environmental Impact Statement for its plan to move its main Black Hills Health Care System facility from Hot Springs to Rapid City. The VA offers the following rationale for its project:

The purpose of VA’s proposal to reconfigure health care services in the BHHCS is to provide high-quality, safe, and accessible health care for Veterans well into the twenty-first century by:

  • Providing locations and facilities that support VA’s efforts to enhance and maintain quality and safety of care in the 100,000-square-mile catchment area.
  • Ensuring facilities for Veterans receiving any services comply with accessibility requirements for handicapped individuals, support current standards of care, and can be well-maintained within available budgets and resources
  • Increasing access to care closer to where Veterans reside
  • Reducing out-of-pocket expenses for Veterans’ travel

VA has identified a need to reconfigure health care services in the BHHCS catchment area because:

  • VA has difficulty maintaining high-quality, safe, and accessible care at the Hot Springs Campus.
  • Existing locations and facilities constrain the care, range of services, and access to care VA offers to Veterans in the catchment area [Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Black Hills Health Care System, Final Environmental Impact Statement, November 2016, p. xix].

The VA says the best option is to build a new multi-specialty outpatient clinic and a 100-bed residential rehabilitation treatment program in Rapid City while converting Building 12 on the Hot Springs campus to a community-based outpatient clinic. VA estimates the cost of that plan at $217.1 million. That’s only a couple million more expensive than taking no action—i.e., keeping all current functions at the Hot Springs campus—but $68.5 million more expensive than moving the big functions to Rapid City and building a new, cheaper clinic in Hot Springs.

But money will be no object under the new fact-free fascist who will occupy the White House come January 20. Trumpist policy, to the extent that such policy exists, appears ready to explode our deficit thanks to a combination warface/veteran sloganology and fiscal cluelessness. If our Congressional delegation is nervous about the VA’s move taking pork away from Hot Springs (and the VA acknowledges that its preferred option will have “Adverse minor to moderate impact to housing and employment” and “adverse major impact to wages” in Hot Springs while having “beneficial negligible impact to housing, employment, and wages” in Rapid City), they should be able to wave a banner reading “Veterans!” under the Führer’s nose and get him to write a billion-dollar check and come for the grand opening of two new Black Hills VA hospitals linked by a new federally-subsidized railroad running coal-fired trains.

The VA EIS notes that the new VHA national pharmacy call center is bringing 120 new jobs to Hot Springs and using “underutilized or vacant” space on the historic VA campus. In bringing this call center to Hot Springs and keeping a clinic on the historic Southern Hills campus, the VA seems to be making an extra effort to include local economic preservation goals with the main mission of providing the best care anywhere. It remains to be seen whether that accommodation will satisfy our Congressional delegation or whether they will stick their buckets in for more of the new reckless deficit spending likely to flow from the new White House.

15 Responses to VA Offers Clinic and Call Center to Keep Jobs in Hot Springs

  1. Can someone remind me why we need a VA medical system at all? Why can’t veterans get their healthcare from the same clinics, hospitals and rehabilitation centers that non-veterans use?

  2. Because Mr. Rorschach, you were to busy to serve with all that democracy belief and stuff, it was to hard for you.

  3. Government spending helps the economy, we call it stimulus. If this helps veterans in any way whatsoever, why is it any different than stimulus for road building or for the county buildings that were built to keep the ungrateful masses busy? The campus at Hot Springs is a beautiful set of buildings that this will keep in place for many years to come. The building part of the VA is no different from the medical part of the VA and that should change. The construction of new buildings and remodel of others, should be handled without taking medical needs from veterans regarding budget issues.

  4. Wrong Jerry. It was just that I had heel spurs. I forget which foot.

    But can you answer my questions? It seems to me that the quality and timeliness of service with our South Dakota providers is at least as good – and perhaps better – than that provided by the VA. That’s what I was hoping that someone might answer, because I really don’t know. Was I wrong to ask questions that I don’t know the answer to, Jerry?

  5. I will try again to send this as the last one was lost out there in the blog land.

  6. I support Mike Rounds in his position and efforts to keep the Hot Springs campus open. I support President elect Trump on this issue So there, elections have consequences and I see that whatever I may have thought Monday, today is Friday and I have just read a very important article that has changed the way I feel.

    Now I know that he will be impeached by these same republicans that are now all in support of him as that will fade when the echo chamber kicks it back in to gear. Will we support President elect Trump when the impeachment proceedings start? Who knows, but the thought of a President Pence should really scare the hell out of you, take a look and you will see why the Evangelicals are in full support as they know that their man is now in charge of the transition team that will serve him when that day comes.

  7. I do not feel it is right for me to comment my opinion so I will give you veterans opinions as a whole. There must have been a reason why the post I wrote was lost so here is this Mr. Rorschach

  8. Thank you for the information jerry, as I am now more enlightened. And thank you for your service.

  9. I, for one, hope that today was as good a day as possible for ALL VETERANS regardless of where they live or what goofy political opinions they espout. For they earned that right for all of us.

    Thank you, all Veterans.

  10. W R Old Guy

    Full disclosure; I am retired military, a VA patient and worked for a VA medical center for 25 years.

    The cards provided to the vets to obtain health care when they could not get a VA appointment have been a disaster. The VA contracted with a private company to administer the program. In many cases it takes months for a vet to get an appointment. I know of vets that have waited months for an appointment and are frustrated by having to continuously call the contractor’s appointment line only to have to explain to a new call taker what they wanted each time.

    Once they get an appointment, they are often delayed by the contractor’s failure to forward the required medical records. Payments to the provider are taking months and providers are starting to refuse VA referrals. We were doing these services in house and providing the info to the civilian provider within days. In addition the vet and the provider’s staff knew who their contact person was at the VA. The provider was paid within 30 days.

    The VA used to run contract primary clinics in Faith, Eagle Butte and Isabel. The VA went out for bids for a new contract to provide the services. No one bid on them. These Vets now have to travel a long distance for care or try to find a provider closer to their home in a chronically underserved area.

    A VA patient can go to any VA medical center and the medical staff will be able to read through his entire medical record within 30 minutes or so of his arrival. His or her military medical record may also be available. They can also get refills on prescriptions (except controlled substances).

    Does anyone know an area of the country where you can get a non-emergent appointment for primary or specialty care within 30 days? How many substance abuse programs have extra room? How many mental health providers have extra room? How many civilian providers have seen enough vets to identify problems that are related to active duty service?

    I prefer to keep my health care with a VA provider.

  11. Thank you for taking the time to read the article Mr. Rorschach and thank you for your good wishes, that goes to you as well Mr. Grudznick.

  12. W R Old Guy, very good post sir. Thanks for the work you did inside the system that has cared for me since 1969. You are a professional and I tip my hat to your and your service. Yes, we must fight hard to keep the system in place that cares for all our special needs that they are the experts in dealing with. I apologize for not really knowing how this new system will work in Hot Springs and how it will make changes. I know that I have dealt and am currently dealing with the claims office in Hot Springs and have had good results for services rendered on a claim. Rounds has done a good job for veterans here in this region and I cannot fault him on his work. I appreciate the fact that he is on the committee for veterans affairs so that helps us here in the region as well as the rest of the country.

    As you note, I prefer to keep my health care with a VA provider.

  13. No, jerry, thank YOU.

  14. Oglala Lakota war vets need the Hot Springs VA

  15. Is the VA hospital in Hot Springs, down there by Bob’s house, having problems? I can’t think they would close that because it is the main VA hospital in the area. If Obama didn’t close it, I can’t see Trump doing it worse.