Did anyone else find it ironic that the VA decided to end inpatient medical care on Memorial Day? Perhaps I'm overly cynical after carrying bullet fragments in my body for over 50 years?

We honor our veterans, but just during business hours Monday through Friday. Pretty sure Mercy and Riverbend don't know or care about Purple Hearts and the special care they sometimes require.

Thanks again to our draft-dodging presidents and members of Congress. Maybe use the money saved on foreign aid or needless fuzzy social programs.

Ron Standiford


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Ron, I believe that the Veterans Administration made the right decision.

Quality medical care demands that the team delivering the care be active, busy, and repeatedly performing their duties. I don't want a surgeon who does two coronary artery bypass grafts a year doing my coronary artery bypass graft, and I suspect that neither do you. It would not matter how much the surgeon and the surgeon's team wanted to do a good job, how much money they made, how much we spent on them, and so on: they simply could not do an adequate job.

A hospital inpatient unit has to be sufficiently busy in order to perform quality care. The same is true of an ICU, of an Emergency Department, and so on; skills decay through lack of exercise, and patients are imperiled.

I commanded the 196th Station Hospital at SHAPE in Belgium in the mid-1990s. It was an international hospital staffed by physicians from the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, Germany, and, on rotating bases, other NATO nations and partners. Our patients were from all the NATO and Partners for Peace nations. As I was assuming command, the order came down for us to downsize from hospital to a clinic. It was the right decision (for the reasons noted above), and we executed it, to the benefit of our patients; they received excellent care in two nearby Belgian hospitals. We physicians at the SHAPE clinic had visiting privileges at those hospitals. The community at first resisted the change, but came to embrace it.

As with that episode, our community will benefit from this present change.

On a personal note: I don't carry any bullet fragments as you do; I do carry some Belgian steel, inserted by Belgian surgeons after I got T-boned from the left in a Belgian yield-to-the-right intersection. The Belgian surgeons at Ambroise Paré were superb.



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