By Associated Press - Friday, May 22, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - An emergency room at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Topeka is expected to reopen soon after it was closed last year on a temporary basis because of understaffing problems.

William Patterson, a regional Veterans Affairs director, told two Kansas members of Congress that the emergency room at Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center could reopen by the end of this month, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports ( ) reported.

Spokesman Jim Gleisberg for the VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare System said Colmery-O’Neil officials haven’t set an exact date for reopening but it’s getting close.

“Working closely with VACO (the VA Central Office), the Topeka VA has worked diligently to ensure all aspects and requirements have been met to remove the temporary ‘pause’ in ED status at the Topeka VA Emergency Department,” Patterson wrote in a letter dated April 27 to U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins.

The letter was received by Moran and Jenkins this week, according to officials. The Republicans are set to tour Colmery-O’Neil on Tuesday to meet with director Rudy Klopfer, visit with patients and get an update on the emergency room.

The emergency room was shut down Jan. 31, 2014, on a temporary basis in favor of an urgent care clinic open 24/7 to veterans.

Emergency room accreditation requires the medical center to always be staffed by a physician. But Colmery-O’Neil was staffed by a physician only for 124 hours of the 168 hours in a week, with a physician’s assistant filling in during the other 44 hours.

Patterson said the center has five full-time emergency medicine physicians and will add a sixth in July. Patterson added that the hospital hired Dr. Fatima Khan as chief of the emergency department on April 5 and made efforts to bring the emergency department within compliance of VA rules and regulations.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,

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