Thank you Dr. Fitch—
I am the President of the National Association of VA physicians and Dentists (NAVAPD). Our organization dates back to the mid 1970s and we proudly serve our Nations Veterans.
OUR organization is dedicated to improving the quality of patient care in the VA health care system, ensuring the doctor-patient relationship is maintained and strengthened. NAVAPD leadership and members believe:
- the doctor-patient relationship is a sacred, enduring trust;
- the delivery of quality health care within the VA system depends on preserving and strengthening that criticalrelationship; and
- we must reform the VA health care system to further improve veteran health care quality and access in the 21st century.
You can visit our website navapd.org to learn more--
I practice pulmonary and critical care medicine and I have been caring for veterans on a daily basis for nearly 50 years. I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words here today.
As I was driving past Arlington Cemetery on this Memorial Day Weekend it served as a reminder to me as to why we are really here today so I threw away my previously written remarks.
We are here today to speak about how we care for those who have risked their lives for this Nation and suffered dearly.
Any time change is contemplated – any change… in anything – it is natural, and appropriate to ask: Why? How will it improve the status quo? Change in the VA health care system is critically needed, but the 27-page VA policy statement will not improve health care; it will permanently establish a second – lower – level of care in which physicians are not making critical care decisions.
I know well what happens in acute care hospitals on a daily basis. Patients may look to be doing well and only a few seconds later they are at death’s doorstep. Patients in the operating suite are some of the most fragile patients and they deserve the highest most sophisticated level of care that this great nation can provide.
When a surgeon has his hands inside someone’s heart they must know that the person at the head of the table can handle any emergency situation that arises. I work closely with and respect APRNs. The merits of this new policy must be weighed on whether or not it improves Veteran health care. I don’t see it.
Now… I tried to read this policy carefully, but it is so filled with legal jargon it will take #10 Harvard lawyers to decipher it before it can be fully implemented. This matter is too important to proceed based on the famous phrase “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” If this policy is not a CLEAR improvement, it should not be undertaken.
There is only a brief window of opportunity for the veterans of this country to prevent this colossal breach of trust to our veterans from occurring.
I urge all veterans to tell VA leadership and the United States congressthat this document is not what you deserve and fought for.
Now I’d like to turn it over to someone who also has a special perspective on this issue.
Sheknows firsthand the special needs of Veterans. She is a Veteran of the U.S. Army, has a son who is a Veteran, another son currently serving and is the legislative director of AMVETS, Diane Zummato.