Chairmen Takano, Tester, Mrvan Statements Regarding Concerning OIG Reports on EHR
WASHINGTON, D.C —Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and HVAC Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Chairman Frank J. Mrvan (D-Ind.) released the following statements after VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released three concerning reports stemming from allegations about the Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation at the Mann-Grandstaff facility in Spokane, Washington. These reports detailed a number of issues including insufficient ticket processing, care coordination issues, and medication management deficiencies. The OIG has identified a number of unresolved issues that currently do not have a timeline or plan for mitigation. One report highlighted that while employees have been resolute in their commitment to the mission and serving veterans, they felt “unheard,” “abandoned,” and in some cases “disrespected.” Chairman Mrvan announced a Subcommittee roundtable on April 5th to hear directly from leadership and staff from Spokane, Walla Walla, and Columbus about these issues and a Subcommittee hearing on April 26th to discuss the results of these OIG reports.
“Unfortunately, these reports are in line with what we have been hearing from employees in Mann-Grandstaff all along,” said Chairman Takano. “While I think there were some lessons learned and changes made during the strategic pause, I’m not convinced that VA has solved its issues with the Cerner system and medication management—however, I hope that under Secretary McDonough’s leadership, these issues will be resolved. The front-line workers at VA have gone through so much over the past two years with the COVID-19 pandemic, and I applaud their efforts to create workarounds to make the system work in Spokane, but this is not sustainable. We cannot keep asking these healthcare employees to shoulder the burden for a program that did not take their requirements and needs seriously from the start. I had concerns when the contract was awarded, and I still have them now. I look forward to hearing from VA staff at our upcoming roundtable, but let me be clear—I am committed to making sure that this implementation is done correctly, and most importantly, safely.”
“These reports are unacceptable and make clear the EHRM program is not where it needs to be,” said Chairman Tester. “For years, I have aggressively pushed VA under the Trump and now the Biden Administrations to address deficiencies and challenges within this program that can disrupt the delivery of care to our veterans. As Chairman, I’ll continue holding VA and Cerner accountable in making necessary changes before expanding the program elsewhere across the country—to ensure providers can safely deliver our nation’s veterans the care they need and earned.”
“Patient safety is our number one priority, and these reports from the VA OIG are very troubling and coincide with what staff in Spokane told me last fall,” said Chairman Mrvan. “I remain grateful for all of the dedicated VA staff who have been fighting to make this system work, but these reports make clear that there are significant issues with the implementation. We intend to hold a Subcommittee roundtable with leadership and staff from Spokane, Walla Walla, and Columbus on April 5th to directly hear their concerns with the new EHR, and we will also have a hearing on April 26th to discuss these reports with VA leadership, the Inspector General and EHR contractors. We must hear what VA is going to do to make sure this is not an issue going forward.”
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