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Congressman Brad Wenstrup held a listening session at The Ross County Veterans Office in Chillicothe Friday, where he heard from military veterans and former employees of the Chillicothe V.A. Medical Center, concerning recommendations that could eventually close that facility.
The Cincinnati congressman says he was serving as Chair of the U.S. House Veterans Commission that led to studies concerning how veterans medical care should look in the coming decades.
While Wenstrup says any assessment is good business practice on what and what is not needed, he believes that recommendations for the Chillicothe V.A. campus does not make practical sense for the needs of our veterans.
“I think this V.A. has a lot of assets and people are accustomed to this location as well. I think that is important as we serve a large area, and your talking about moving things where some people would have to go to Dayton. Look, I’m a physician and I have been to the (Chillicothe) V.A. and I know many of the assets they have. I think you can do a lot of out-patient work there and there’s a lot of assets that are here. You have some lab, you have radiology and you can certainly have primary care there. If there is not a high demand there for in-patient surgery, then we (can) take a look at that and say maybe we don’t need to be propping that up.”
The Republican congressman, physician and military veteran talked about what the original intent of the Commission was in serving veterans needs in the future.
“We put into the Mission Act a couple of years ago, and I was chairing V.A. Health at the time, that we wanted to do an asset review of everything we had. And that’s a normal business process, right? And you also want to know if you are in the place where veterans are, and we do have a lot of veterans in this area. So, how do we best serve them?
Wenstrup says thee voices of veterans and V.A. employees are coming through loud and clear to lawmakers.
“So, I think this is far from being done and I want to be engaged with the Commission, especially as a physician. I hope that this Commission will come and view all the assets. There is somebody who is a care-giver that understands how out-patient facilities can work and what patients’ needs are, that really understand the needs and and we take a look at this in a proper fashion- so that we’re providing the best services we can for our veterans.”
Wenstrup says if out-patient surgery is not practical in Chillicothe, that aspect of veterans care could still be provided locally at private hospitals with the Department of Veterans Affairs paying for that.