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Schumer urges the VA to fix its medical equipment backlog

Ashley Hirtzel

Senator Charles Schumer has launched a push to clear the backlog of requests for medical equipment at VA hospitals across the New York State Wednesday. Schumer is calling on the new Veterans Administration to make wholesale changes to its equipment procurement process.

The Buffalo VA Hospital has at least nine pieces of equipment stuck in backlog since 2012. The pieces include an MRI machine, catheterization labs, and a newer CT scan machine that produces less radiation, a dental PAC machine, and da Vinci surgery robot.

Schumer says when equipment is no longer working and has yet to be replaced appointments are canceled or postponed, further exacerbating other issues within the VA like patient backlogs.

“It’s a shame. Our veterans risk their lives for us. They protect our freedom and way of life. When they come home injured, it’s our obligation to take care of them quickly and well, and there should be no excuse. Any veteran should not have to wait in a long line for healthcare. While the wait times in our New York VA hospitals are a lot better than Phoenix they’re not good enough and they have to work to get a lot better,” said Schumer.

It’s estimated that 900 pieces of equipment across the U.S. have been held up in procurement in the VA’s National Procurement Center in Chicago for years. Schumer says veterans should not have to wait for life-saving medical equipment as it could be the difference between life and death for some.

“Our local [VA] hospital can procure their own equipment, which they’re allowed to do smaller things like rubber gloves or sanitizers they get it quickly, but when they have to go through Chicago to the VA Procurement Center the delays are nightmarish and hurt our veteran’s healthcare,” said Schumer.

Schumer says he acknowledges the changes already happening within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but he’s asking the new administration quickly modify the equipment procurement system.