Fayetteville VA indefinitely ends 24-hour emergency room

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Fayetteville’s VA Medical Center is converting its emergency department from 24-hour service to a 12-hour urgent care center. The change comes because of a staffing shortage.Hospital spokesman Jeff Melvin said the contractor in charge of providing a certified ER doctor for the hospital could not manage to cover every shift in the ER. So the hospital could not continue to operate an emergency department.
Melvin said there were a few times recently when a doctor was not on staff in the ER, so patients without life-threatening issues were triaged and asked to return at a later time. A doctor from a different part of the hospital was paged to the ER for life-threatening situations.

Melvin said the hospital could not operate in that manner indefinitely, so it was necessary to convert to an urgent care center until the staffing shortage could be resolved.

The urgent care center will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week with ancillary service. According to a press release from the VA, that includes laboratory and x-ray facilities.

The statement also said the VA “will treat patients without a scheduled appointment who are in need of immediate attention for an acute medical or psychiatric illness or minor injuries.”

Melvin said the ER operation will resume as soon as enough certified ER doctors can be scheduled around the clock. He hopes that will happen in October after the VA begins working with a new contractor.

In the meantime, the VA Medical Center is not accepting ambulances. Ambulances will be sent to other emergency rooms in the area.

Any veteran who needs emergency attention at a different hospital should have the hospital contact the local VA as soon as possible to figure out if VA benefits will cover the costs of care. The number for the local hospital to call is (800) 771-6106, extension 7002 or (800) 936-7540.

“The Fayetteville VAMC has traditionally relied on local community hospitals as health partners and will continue to collaborate closely with these hospitals to assure that our patients receive seamless care when we are not able to serve them at our facility,” Medical Center Director Elizabeth Goolsby said in the press release. “Ensuring high quality care is always at the forefront of facility decisions and this change will ensure that Veterans continue to receive the high quality care they have earned and deserve.”

More information about emergency care for veterans can be found on the VA website.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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