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Newhouse, Murray focus on flawed VA records rollout

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | July 7, 2022 3:26 PM

RICHLAND — Both Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, and Sen. Patty Murray devoted time following the 4th of July holiday pressing the Veterans Administration to improve the way it cares for the country’s veterans.

In a press release issued Thursday, Newhouse and Rep. Mike Boost, R-Ill., the senior Republican on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, visited VA facilities in Eastern Washington and met with staff to discuss the rollout of the VA’s new Electronic Health Records system in Washington state.

“Over the last few days I have spoken with numerous physicians, administrators and staff at our local VA facilities in Richland and Walla Walla and hosted an informative listening session with Central Washington veterans,” Newhouse said in the press release. “Their messages were unified: the new Electronic Health Records system at the VA is not providing the care our veterans need and deserve.”

Newhouse called upon President Joe Biden to devote more resources at the VA to ensure that no more records are lost and no more veterans are harmed as a result of the program’s bumpy rollout in Spokane and Walla Walla.

Both Newhouse and Boost, who are both members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said the committee will continue to push the VA to fix the problems with the program.

“One thing is abundantly clear: the electronic health records modernization program should not move forward anywhere else until the problems in Washington state are fixed,” Boost said in the press release.

In a separate press conference Thursday at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Murray — who is a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said she will continue to push for improvements in the program and accountability for those who failed to implement it properly.

“I have heard countless stories of veterans receiving the wrong medication in the mail, doctors not being able to see as many patients as they could, and, as we’ve all seen, near-total shutdown of the hospital because this program was not ready to go live,” Murray said in her press release.

Murray said the VA and Oracle Center, the company that created the program, need to fix the problems with the EHR system as quickly as possible before the program is implemented at bigger VA facilities in the Puget Sound region.

“The top priority and focus right now needs to be fixing things here in Spokane,” Murray said.

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