BAY AREA MEMBERS DEMAND IMPROVED CARE AT VA NURSING HOMES

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Washington, June 19, 2018 | comments
U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Kathy Castor (FL-14), and Charlie Crist (FL-13) are calling for urgent action by the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve the quality of care at Tampa Bay area VA-operated community living centers (CLCs). Last week, the VA announced CLC facility ratings with Bay Pines and James A. Haley Medical Centers both receiving poor reviews.

"Generations of Tampa Bay area Veterans have come to the C.W. Bill Young and James A. Haley Medical Centers to redeem the promise of world-class, Veteran-specific health care they have earned from professionals who specialize in treating those who served," the members wrote. "Unfortunately, these ratings indicate that much still needs to be done to fulfill that promise.  We cannot tolerate sub-par quality of care for Veterans who have sacrificed so much."

Please find a copy of the letter attached and below:

June 18, 2018

Acting Secretary Peter O'Rourke
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Acting Secretary O'Rourke:

As members of the Tampa Bay congressional delegation, we write to you with significant concerns about a recent report on the rating of our local VA-operated community living centers (CLC).  The Directors of James A. Haley and Bay Pines have proactively alerted us to the poor ratings their facilities received.  While we appreciate their explanation and their stated commitment to improvement, the quality of care at our local CLCs must be urgently addressed.

We acknowledge that the Rating System, as calculated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, does not account for unique challenges faced by the VA-operated community living centers; however, it is our firm belief that all Veterans deserve timely access to quality CLCs.  Anything short of that is simply unacceptable.  The assertion that “VA CLCs often house residents with more complex medical needs that private sector facilities will not accept, which makes achieving good quality ratings more challenging,” is simply insufficient.  The VA exists to treat the complex medical needs facing Veterans; whether through specialty-specific programs (Traumatic Brain Injuries, Mental Health, Military Sexual Trauma, homelessness, etc.), general doctor appointments and check-ups, or Veterans housing.

Generations of Tampa Bay area Veterans have come to the C.W. Bill Young and James A. Haley Medical Centers to redeem the promise of world-class, Veteran-specific health care they have earned from professionals who specialize in treating those who served.  Unfortunately, these ratings indicate that much still needs to be done to fulfill that promise.  We cannot tolerate sub-par quality of care for Veterans who have sacrificed so much.  They have earned the best we can offer.  We look forward to hearing from you, VISN8 Director LaPuz, Bay Pines Director Klinker, and Haley Director Battle on how you are going to improve the quality of our local VA CLCs.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Respectfully,

Gus M. Bilirakis
Member of Congress

Kathy Castor
Member of Congress

Charlie Crist
Member of Congress
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