(Neb)-VA Approves Plan To Close Much Of Hot Springs Center
HOT SPRINGS, SD. - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved a plan to reconfigure the VA Black Hills Health Care System and close a major part of the historic VA hospital in Hot Springs. VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who made a quick visit to Hot Springs in November, issued his decision late Friday.
Although a little different than the first proposal which came out in Dec 2011, the VA decision could eliminate almost 300 jobs in Hot Springs as the Battle Mountain Sanitarium - the Hot Springs VA Domiciliary - is replaced by a multi-specialty outpatient clinic and 100-bed rehabilitation facility in Rapid City
The original plan called for construction of a new VA outpatient clinic elsewhere in Hot Springs, but the final version uses an existing building on the Hot Springs ground to house outpatient and dialysis clinics, leaving about 67 FTE jobs. Part of the Hot Springs center is currently being renovated to house new national VA call center that's expected to add 120 jobs.
The 3-member South Dakota congressional delegation, all Republicans, wasted no time blasting the decision. In a joint statement, Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune and Congresswoman. Kristi Noem said they were "deeply concerned by the Obama VA's decision, which is the direct result of a flawed process and continued data discrepancies."
The trio said they will "continue to work together and with veterans and community stakeholders to determine the next steps" to finding a solution that puts veterans in the best possible position to receive the high-quality health care and support they deserve."
Black Hills Health Care System director Sandra Horsman said in a prepared statement that she is "am honored to lead this health care system from the uncertainty of the past into the future."
Implementing the plan is expected to be a multiyear effort dependent on federal funding with current appropriations law restricting money for such projects, but top VA officials say they are working with Congress to address the restrictions.
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