Atlanta VA medical center suspends scheduled surgeries for a month

Connecting Vets
October 14, 2019 - 8:53 am
Operating Room

Getty Images

The Decatur VA Medical Center in Atlanta stopped performing anything but emergency surgeries at the end of September — and they’re not expected to resume during October. 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, employees from the facility anonymously said the hospital was facing issues with shortages in sterilized equipment, staff not showing up on time, and veterans canceling last minute. These issues impacted operations at the VAMC so much so that the facility had to stop scheduling and performing routine surgeries.

The hospital already reports surgery wait times of three or more months. During the three weeks that the hospital has outsourced non-emergency surgeries, 100 patients have been sent to community hospitals and the facility performed 130 surgeries. 

"Atlanta VA Health Care System is committed to continuously improving patient safety," said Atlanta VA Medical Center Public Affairs Officer Greg Kendall. "That's why the facility's leadership made the decision on September 30 to temporarily reduce the number of veterans treated for elective cases until the end of October, when the facility's operating room will begin phasing in additional cases." 

"In the meantime, all surgery staff will be reviewing procedures, practices and policies as well as conducting staff training in order to improve OR productivity and efficiency," Kendall added. "This reduction applies only to elective surgeries, and affected Veterans will be re-scheduled as soon as possible or provided care at VA expense through non-VA community providers."

This is the same VA Medical Center that gained national attention last month when Joel Marrable’s daughter found her cancer-ridden veteran father covered in ant bites in his room at the facility.

'Unacceptable': VA disciplines leaders after reports a veteran died covered in ant bites

Last year, the medical center received the lowest possible score in the VA’s hospital rating system. This past April, two veterans died by suicide outside two Georgia VA Medical Centers — one of them was the facility in Decatur. 

Two veterans in two days die by suicide outside two different Georgia VA Medical Centers

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.