|02-25-2009, 01:59 PM||#1|
Va doctor speaks up about lack of staff and
VA DOCTOR SPEAKS UP ABOUT LACK OF STAFF AND
LOSES HIS JOB -- "I think veterans deserve more care
than we give them. Let us serve them as they deserve."
Gallup vets left without health specialist
By Gaye Brown de Alvarez
GALLUP — Dr. Chander Bhatia, the physician at the Veterans Affairs Clinic in Gallup is still in town.
In fact, he said in an interview two weeks ago, he is still working on weekends at Cibola General Hospital. He said he isn’t sure why he was escorted out of the VA Clinic in Gallup last May. But he said it all started when he was at the yearly meeting of VA doctors in 2006 and he was the only one speaking. Bhatia said in the meeting he needed more staff.
Veterans Administration Chief of Medicine Dr. Martin Schimmel was at the meeting, but nobody else was talking about their needs at their VA clinics in the region. At the 2006 meeting, “nobody spoke up,” Bhatia said.
A phone call to the Veterans Administration was replied to by the chief of voluntary service and public affairs operations for the New Mexico VA Health Care System, Sonja Brown, who said she could not comment on personnel matters, but did state that Schimmel was not chief of medicine, but was the associate chief of staff of ambulatory care. She would not say anything further and suggested any further information should be obtained from Bhatia.
Marissa Padilla, of Sen. Tom Udall’s, D-N.M., office made an inquiry into the Department of Veterans Affairs as to the service and physician access at the Gallup Clinic.
Udall’s office received this response on Feb. 13 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: “The Gallup, NM Community Base Outpatient Clinic is fully staffed with two locum tenens physicians. The Gallup CBOC was historically staffed with one full-time physician. In February 2008, a second physician was added. In May 2008, the Clinic lost one of the physicians and the other physician resigned in July 2008. Immediate temporary replacements were provided, and medical services have been provided continuously with two physicians since July 2008. There has been no gap in physician services and access to Veteran care has been maintained throughout this period.
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