Durbin, Kirk, Costello, Shimkus: Restarting Surgeries at Marion VA is Good News for Southern Illinois Veterans

VA Secretary confident that all quality assurance measures and safety precautions have been taken

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined Representatives Jerry Costello (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) today in saying that the announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that inpatient surgeries at the Marion VA Medical Center in (VAMC) are restarting is good news for veterans in Southern Illinois. In a letter to the Illinois Members, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki expressed confidence that all necessary reviews to ensure safety and quality of care have been completed successfully at the facility.


“Many veterans in Southern Illinois will not have to travel as far to get the high quality care they need and deserve,” said Durbin. “It has taken over three years to bring the Marion VA surgical services back on track, but the VA assures us it has right steps to ensure the safety of our veterans. As the changes continue in Marion, the dedicated doctors, nurses and staff have my full support and the support of the Illinois Delegation.”


“As a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserves, my commitment is to make sure our military veterans get the best medical care available,” Senator Kirk said. “During a visit to the Marion VA Medical Center last March, I became convinced that the staff at this VA facility had implemented new safety procedures to ensure that our veterans in Southern Illinois receive the quality health care they earned in service to our nation. These improvements guarantee that our veterans will receive the best care we can offer for years to come.”


“It has taken far too long to get here, but this is good news for our veterans who rely on the Marion VAMC for quality care, and a positive development for the facility,” said Costello. “Interim Director Roseborough and current Director Bockelman deserve credit for overseeing marked progress during a very tough time at Marion, as do all of the employees who do their best caring for our veterans. However, we must be very clear today that this effort is not finished. From this point forward, the hard, day-to-day work of maintaining a quality facility must continue, as that is how you regain the trust of patients and the community.”


“I am pleased that today the Marion VA has finally reached this point. While the process was long, the health and safety of our veterans should always be the priority. I will continue to monitor the progress of the Marion VA closely,” said Shimkus.


Earlier today, the VA notified staff at the Marion VAMC that they have approved the reopening of inpatient surgery at the standard level. Standard-level surgeries include procedures with low risks for complications such as appendectomies, hernia repair and other minimally invasive operations. The Marion VAMC resumed all approved outpatient surgical procedures in 2008 following a 2007 suspension of all surgeries after the VA uncovered instances of surgical malfeasance associated with the deaths of nine veterans.


According the VA, Marion VAMC has completed successful reviews by the VA’s Office of the Inspector General and Medical Inspector as well as TJC an independent not-for-profit organization. The facility has increased staffing from 1,074 employees in 2007 to 1,382 in 2011 which includes a full cadre of general surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses to support a standard-level inpatient surgery program. Marion VAMC also received approval for several infrastructure improvements including: a $13 million initiative to relocate and expand the surgical suite; modernization of 16-bed inpatient ward; construction of a state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation center; and construction of a radiology suite to house new MRI and CT units.