Veterans Administration officials have decided to keep open a VA hospital used by western Nebraska veterans, but offer reduced services there.
Nebraska Congressional members have joined with those in South Dakota and Wyoming in an effort to keep the Black Hills Health Care System in Hot Springs open.
They have succeeded, in part.
The VA has determined that Black Hills will remain open, but only as an outpatient medical clinic. Any in-patient treatment will be moved to the VA hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, an hour’s drive north of Hot Springs, under the proposal.
“It creates a hardship for those who already have to travel a great distance to Hot Springs,” Third District Congressman Adrian Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Protests from the Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming Congressional delegations prevented the VA from closing the facility in Hot Springs. Those protests even persuaded the VA to extend the public comment period on an Environmental Impact Statement for the Hot Springs’ facility.
The final environmental impact statement recommends Black Hills become a community-based outpatient clinic.
Smith doesn’t believe this is the last word on Black Hills. Smith hopes the new administration will reverse the decision, because of its negative impact.
“Reducing the scope of care at Hot Springs causes more hardship for veterans who are already traveling a great distance to Hot Springs from points around western Nebraska,” Smith says.
The Black Hills facility officially covers nine counties in Nebraska: Box Butte, Cherry, Dawes, Garden, Grant, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, and Sioux.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]