January 7, 2014
VA New England Healthcare System has two health care systems serving the Greater Boston area: VA Boston Healthcare System (HCS) and the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital (Bedford VA Medical Center). These medical centers serve the same geographical area and Bedford is dependent on Boston for many clinical services. Two separate VA health care systems in the same geographical area have created barriers to the coordination of care, access, and regional planning. These challenges include: separate medical record, appointment, and transportation systems resulting in barriers to optimal care for many patients.
In an effort to eliminate these barriers, a proposal was formulated to integrate the VA Boston HCS and Bedford VA Medical Center (VAMC) into a single health care system serving the Greater Boston area. This proposal was widely shared with Veterans, families, staff, and other stakeholders.
In December 2011, the integration proposal was submitted to VA Central Office. Since that time, this issue has been the subject of deliberation by Veterans Health Administration (VHA) leadership. The initial integration proposals as well as various alternative approaches have been reviewed. At this time, VHA Leadership has requested VA New England Healthcare System allow VA Boston HCS and the Bedford VAMC to remain distinct and independent VA medical centers and to seek solutions through alternative approaches that do not require integration. VHA Leadership has decided that integration of the two healthcare systems is not necessary to address the identified coordination barriers as they exist.
VA New England Healthcare System will proceed with an alternative initiative to improve care for patients receiving services at the two medical centers in the Greater Boston area. The alternative initiative includes the following actions: combining the two medical centers’ Computerized Patient Record Systems (CPRS) into a single medical record, creating a unified appointment system, and coordinating transportation systems. The following is the sequence of events for the implementation of this alternative initiative: complete the hiring of leadership at Bedford VAMC, request leadership teams to create an action plan to implement the initiative to improve VHA Care in Greater Boston, and announce the roll out of the new initiative to foster seamless care for Veterans.
VA New England Healthcare System will recruit full-time, permanent leadership at Bedford VAMC. This will include the following positions: Director, Chief of Staff, and Nurse Executive to complement our newly appointed full-time Associate Director Mr. Mark Fontaine-Westhart.
VA New England Healthcare System would like to thank the staff for their patience and is committed to improving care for patients receiving services at the two medical centers in the Greater Boston area - VA Boston HCS and the Bedford VAMC.
Michael Mayo-Smith MD, MPH