Curry Medical Center’s Brookings ER, when it opens, will save lives.

There are regulations, such as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which Curry Medical Center will be required to be in compliance, requiring that the patient’s condition must be treated to stabilize it or to make a transfer to an appropriate facility. 

There are lessons the medical center can learn from the deadly consequences which occurred at the VA in Roseburg, when veteran Ray Velez died en route to Eugene. Roseburg’s Mercy Hospital was apparently unable to accept Velez from the VA. (See the Eugene Register-Guard article “VA’s service reduction in Roseburg harms Vets.”)

Per Mercy’s website, in the last fiscal year they had 44,494 ER visits (122/day average) and 7,037 admissions.

Previously, it was reported that Mercy will accept veterans from the Roseburg VA according to the “availability of resources.”

Unlike the Curry Medical Center’s efforts to save lives by opening an ER in Brookings,Roseburg VA Director Keith Allen, like his predecessors, is seeking to close the VA’s ER.

One reason why some Brookings veterans  might not use the medical center’s ER is because they don’t want to be saddled with medical bills when the VA wrongfully denies payment.    

The VA not paying veterans’ non-VA ER bills, a local and nationwide problem. NBC’s KARE 11’s December 2018 televised investigative report titled “Pattern of Denial” includes the confessions of a VA claims processor-turned-whistle blower. A 2016 congressional hearing and GAO report can be viewed online with the rest of these news stories.

At the Brookings VA clinic, there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the Walk-in Patient Service Request that states: “The staff cannot guarantee payment by the VA for patient directed to local ER.” 

Curry Medical Center’s Urgent Care, soon to be upgraded to an ER, will save lives ... but will come with a heavy price tag for some veterans.

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