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VAMC making some clinical service changes

IRON MOUNTAIN – The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center (OGJVAMC) is re-designating some clinical services effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 13, to better serve area veterans, officials announced.

“This is to ensure the level of care provided matches the capability and capacity of the medical center. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to providing Veterans access to timely, high-quality care they have earned and deserve,” a spokesperson said.

These designation changes include: converting the surgical program to Ambulatory Surgery Basic, but OGJVAMC will continue to do the vast majority of surgeries currently being done; converting the Emergency Department (ED) to an Urgent Care Center, with no change in staffing or operating hours; and converting four underutilized Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds to general medicine/surgery and hospice beds, where there is a higher demand for services.

According to Jim Rice, medical center director, these changes will more accurately reflect what the medical center was already doing. He noted that more than 98 percent of all ED cases at the medical center were classified at the Urgent Care level, and the average daily census in the ICU is less than one.

These designation changes came about after considerable discussion during strategic planning in 2012 and 2014 on aligning the care at OGJVAMC to position it as a leader in rural medicine.

“I believe these designation changes are in the best interest of our veterans and will help us continue to pursue being ‘Leaders in Rural Health’ and focus on what we do best provide great care to all of our veterans in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin,” Rice noted.

The OGJVAMC will continue to coordinate higher level emergency and critical care with hospitals in both the local community and at larger VA medical centers that provide that care at a higher volume and better serve veterans.

Ambulances transporting veterans will be diverted to the nearest hospital that is capable of providing the emergency care needed.

The Urgent Care Clinic will see patients who believe their condition is not life-threatening. Urgent care is not intended to be a substitute for emergency room care, nor for an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider.

“For routine office visits and medication requests or refills, veterans should continue to seek treatment from their primary care provider,” Rice added.

Veterans experiencing life-threatening symptoms are advised to call 911.

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