Report Recommends Closure Of Muskogee’s VA Hospital
Beverly Cantrell - March 15, 2022 8:17 pm
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma – News 9
The Veteran’s Administration announced tentative plans to close the Muskogee VA Hospital, replacing the services there with smaller clinics in Tulsa and Muskogee.
“It’s going to be economically devastating for Muskogee. We have a 3,000 job influencer because of the VA Hospital being here, and to take that away from rural America would be devastating. We are a medical hub,” Mayor Marlon Coleman said.
Coleman plans to fight the plan, along with three members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation. Senators Lankford and Inhofe, and Representative Mullin, issued a statement saying the oppose the recommendation, saying in part they’re “not convinced the report accurately reflects the needs of veterans’ health care, especially mental health, in our state.”
The plan is included in a comprehensive national realignment strategy proposed by the VA. The Muskogee realignment comes in part because of a new hospital planned in downtown Tulsa.
The report said in addition to the new Tulsa hospital, the VA should build two other new facilities in Tulsa, a new clinic in Muskogee, then close the Muskogee hospital. The reasons include a population shift towards Tulsa, a decline in services offered at Muskogee, trouble recruiting staff there, and the estimated $68 million cost of modernizing the existing hospital.
When the funding was announced for the Tulsa facility, the intention was to repurpose part of the Muskogee facility for an expanded mental health care hub.
The VA plan instead moves that outside the VA system, to community providers, until the services can be replaced in a still undetermined second phase of the hospital in Tulsa.
“The deal evaporated,” said Mayor Coleman. “We were told we’d increase services for psychological trauma, for PTSD, for health and wellness, all of that was going to be unique by having those services here.”