Published: 05/15/2022 13:17:52
Modified: 05/15/2022 13:16:04
NORTHAMPTON — U.S. Representative Jim McGovern voiced his opposition to the possible closure of the VA Hospital in Leeds during a recent call with Denis McDonough, the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
McGovern’s office said the May 6 appeal, details of which were made public this week, was “productive” and that the secretary “thanked President McGovern for his advocacy and pledged to work with him. to go forward”.
McGovern, D-Worcester, is chair of the bylaws committee.
The federal Assets and Infrastructure Review Board made an initial recommendation in March to close the West Central Massachusetts Veterans Medical Center, in part due to $121 million in construction and design flaws, plus $7.5 million in annual operating and maintenance costs.
The congressman pointed out that more than $200 million had been invested in completed, ongoing, and planned renovations in recent years, which he said was a factor the commission should have considered. In a reading of the appeal, McGovern’s office said the plan was based on incomplete data.
“Secretary McDonough said he recognizes the serious problems with the incomplete data used to make the recommendation, and assured Chairman McGovern that steps are being taken to ensure that (the commission) will have up-to-date information and accurate before making his final recommendation to the president,” McGovern’s office said.
With the facility closing, inpatient services would be moved to Newington, Connecticut, about an hour south of Leeds. Ambulatory services would be moved to “a new site near Springfield”, according to the commission’s report.
A final decision on the plan will be made by President Joe Biden after a lengthy public process.
On April 20, McGovern and other elected leaders held a listening session on the shutdown plan at VFW Post 8006 in Florence. During the call, McGovern provided McDonough with a transcript of comments made by veterans, caregivers, VA staff and others.
“The President also said he would do everything in his power to ensure this recommendation does not move forward and that he would provide updates to his constituents so they know their voices are being heard. “, said his office.
McGovern shared “the anxiety and distress this announcement has caused veterans and their loved ones across the region, and reiterated that many veterans have told him they would simply stop seeking treatment if they had to travel to another state to receive the veteran-specific care they rely on in Leeds,” according to his office.
According to the reading, McDonough said he takes veterans’ concerns seriously and doesn’t want to “privatize the VA.”
Brian Steele can be contacted at [email protected]