VA: Hot Springs will become an outpatient clinic

Ray Hunter
January 7, 2017

In the rotunda of Hot Springs' Battle Mountain Sanitarium, a National Historic Landmark where, for more than a century, veterans have been received to get health care, VA/BHHCS Director Sandra Horsman announced that VA Secretary Robert McDonald had chose to follow the VA's preferred alternative, essentially shuttering the Hot Springs' facility. In addition, the Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program will be moved to Rapid City and co-located with a new outpatient clinic. The epicenter of that hit will be Hot Springs.

Director Horsman did explain these changes to her employees Friday morning. "It infuriates me, it upsets all the veterans for taking away our facility and they're not going to give us anything in return". They've condemned us to death, is what they've done. "We want to prepare our employees for those and offer to answer the question where they can't".

Under existing South Dakota law the V.A. can not reduce services in fiscal year 2017 unless a series of requirements, including a national realignment strategy.

"We are unable to move forward".

It was announced Friday morning that Veteran Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald has made a decision to keep some aspects of the hospital intact, while moving others to Rapid City.

The delegation released a joint statement Friday, soon after the announcement. They see the shutting down services at Hot Springs resulting in the loss of some 300 jobs, the community's largest employer. The EIS states that the VA intends to "identify and approve appropriate re-use of the remainder of the Hot Springs campus".

Heather Janssen says, "Keeping the VA here in Hot Springs has been a controversial topic for years now".

Another part of the restructuring calls for veterans to be able to have better access to community health care providers, reducing long-distance travel for care.

Sandra Horsman says, "Currently there will be no changes to our veteran care or to our employee base".

Existing law federal law prohibits the V.A. facility from moving services from Hot Springs to Rapid City.

South Dakota's Congressional leaders aren't fans of the recent decision, issuing a statement saying they're "deeply concerned" by the decision, and say it 'is a direct result of a flawed process'. "The Hot Springs campus, supported by a dedicated medical staff and compassionate community, is critical to the veterans it serves. The delegation will continue to work together and with veterans and community stakeholders to determine next steps".

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made public its final decision regarding "reconfiguring" the Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS) and the Hot Springs VA facility on Friday morning, January 6.

Other reports by MyHealthBowl

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