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Big Spring V.A. Terminating Inpatient Program

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Big Spring is no longer accepting inpatients. But officials with the V.A. say that's no cause for concern.
BIG SPRING -- The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Big Spring is no longer accepting inpatients.  But officials with the V.A. say that's no cause for concern.
 
No jobs at the V.A. in Big Spring will be lost and officials with the V.A. Say patients will now have access to better care than ever before.
 
"Growth of our out patient services, our increase in unique patients, the increase in services that we are providing is a good thing," Ken Allensworth said.  Allensworth is the associate director of the West Texas V.A. healthcare system.
 
Allensworth says the reason the V.A. is eliminating its inpatient program is because that system is antiquated.
 
It was developed in the 1950's, and he says there's no longer a need for it.
 
"As part of our committment to take the care closer to the patient, patient center care, the decision was made to close the inpatient acute beds," Allensworth said.
 
The V.A. says patients will still have the same access to care, in some cases closer to home.
 
The V.A., working in conjunction with each veteran's personal health plan, will be able to set up procedures at hospitals closer to where a patient might live.
 
So instead of a veteran living in Midland and having to make the drive to Big Spring, he or she would be able to get coverage at outpatient clinics closer to home.
 
Officials with the V.A. don't expect this to have any impact at all on the community of Big Spring.  In fact they've actually had an influx of patients since the inpatient program was terminated.
 
"In fact we've seen an increase in patients because we have increased the access to care through our various community-based outpatient clinics," Allensworth said..
 
And even though inpatient procedures are now, for the most part, closed, it doesn't mean the V.A. will be cutting back on staff.
 
Eliminating inpatient beds now frees up the budget for more beds for other areas of health, like the mental health program, which now has 40 beds of its own.
 
"We do have a nice community living center, which is our nursing home.  We have a residential rehab program, which is our domiciliary.  We will have families continuing to come in and visit those residents that we have here," Iva Jo Hanslik said.  She's the community relations manager for the Big Spring V.A.
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