The Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center will continue to operate a 24/7 emergency department, Director Dave Whitmer announced Tuesday.

The decision scraps an earlier proposal to eliminate overnight hours at the Roseburg department and spend the savings on increased urgent care operations in North Bend and Eugene.

Whitmer said the decision was made following an evaluation of a change at the Spokane VA, which transitioned its emergency department to an urgent care.

Whitmer said the Roseburg VA could not receive a waiver to operate as a 12-hour emergency department. If Roseburg became an urgent care facility instead, it would not be able to receive ambulances and would have to limit the types of care it could provide.

Shifts in hours between Roseburg, Eugene and North Bend would require a new physician contract, and create uncertainty, he said.

And the hope that the Roseburg VA will soon host a 151-bed state veteran’s home also influenced the decision. Once that home is built, its occupants will need skilled nursing and respite care, as well as overnight emergency care.

Whitmer said there is still a need for urgent care in Eugene and additional care at the Roseburg VA’s coastal clinics.

He said he has authorized the new Associate Chief of Staff for Primary Care, Todd Quier, to start planning for those needs, which are estimated to add about $1.5 million annually to the VA’s budget.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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