Topeka Colmery-O’Neil VA ER waiting for approval

The Topeka VA Hospital says it is ready to open its emergency room, but it has hit a snag.

It is an update to a story Kansas First News brought you first last week. Nicolette Schleisman takes us inside the hospital. She tells us what is delaying the upgrade.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins responded Monday night about the problems with the Colmery-O’Neil VA hospital’s ER re-opening. In an e-mail she says, “While I’m pleased to hear the Topeka VA is closer to have a functioning emergency room, Colmery-O’Neil has a recent history of staffing issues and the VA’s internal investigation is still ongoing. It is critical the emergency room is reopened as soon as possible, but it is even more critical that it is done right and not reopened until our veterans can be assured they are getting the treatment they deserve.”

“We’re hiring the doctors as E-R doctors. We’re not hiring urgent care doctors,” said Jim Gliesberg.

Jim Gliesberg, spokesman for the Topeka’s the Colmery-O’Neil VA Hospital, says the hospital is one step away from re-opening its Emergency Room. They are waiting for approval from the Washington D.C. VA Headquarters. Back in January, the hospital closed its ER, after the VA said it had to shut down due to a doctor shortage. It has since been re-named an urgent care center. But now, 6 months later, they have hired enough doctors.

“That’s the staff we hired. That’s what they want to do, emergency room treatment,” said Gliesberg.

Since becoming an urgent care facility, ambulances can no longer come to the Topeka VA hospital. The urgent care facility is out of the old emergency room.

Last summer, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins first sent a letter to VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki, asking him to look into the Emergency Room care in Topeka.

In January, she released this statement, which reads in part: “I will continue to work tirelessly with the VA as they conduct what I hope will be a thorough investigation with swift corrective actions to make this a fully functional VA medical center.”

The Colmery-O’Neil Center says they just want the emergency room up and running again.

The Colmery O’Neil VA hospital is currently hiring a few more ER doctors, to make sure they never have another shortage. We reached out to the Washington DC Headquarters via e-mail at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, and still have yet to receive a comment.

The spokesman for Colmery-O’Neil hospital says he does not know when or if they will get approval from the VA to re-open the ER.

But when it comes to its staffing, two top doctors at the hospital are taking other positions within the VA at the end of the month. A spokesman confirmed Monday that Medical Chief of Staff Rajeev Trehan and deputy Chief of Staff, Sandeep Chhahira are transferring out of their positions. The hospital will not release anymore details, because their departures are personnel matters.

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