Equipment Backlogs Across the Country, Including at Buffalo’s VA Hospital, Have Made Patient Care More Difficult – In July 2014, Schumer Visited Buffalo & Called on VA Secretary to Focus On Equipment Backlog & Procurement Citing That It Can Take 3-4 Years from When Equipment is Ordered Until Final Delivery

Schumer Called on Feds to Expeditiously Clear 9 Pieces of Equipment For Hospital That Were Stuck in Backlog, Some Since 2012 – Today, Schumer Announces 5 Major Pieces of Medical Equipment Have Been Awarded & Are Headed to Buffalo VA


Schumer Vows to Continue Fighting for Additional 4 Pieces of Vital Medical Equipment, Says Vets Should Not Have To Wait Years For The Life-Saving Equipment They Need


Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that, after his push, the Buffalo VA Hospital will receive five pieces of life-saving equipment that were cleared from the Veterans Administration’s (VA) backlog following years of hold-ups. The awarding of this equipment comes on the heels of the Senator’s push last year to clear the long queue of requests for life-saving medical equipment around the country, including those from the Buffalo VA Hospital. In July 2014, Schumer visited Buffalo and urged the VA Secretary to clear this backlog and get equipment to the Western New York veterans who need it most. During his visit, Schumer said that doctors and patients at the Buffalo VA had been waiting too long to receive at least nine pieces of important equipment; in some cases, they had been waiting for over two years. Today, Schumer said five of these pieces of critical equipment have been cleared and are headed to Buffalo’s VA Hospital. Specifically, the hospital will receive a CT Scan, Digital X-Ray, X-Ray, and two Ultrasound machines, one for radiology and one for vascular use.


Schumer also vowed to continue to fight for the additional four pieces of equipment that have not yet been cleared from the backlog but are still critical to the Buffalo VA Hospital’s ability to care for its patients. Schumer said the hospital is still awaiting another Ultrasound machine and CT Scan, as well as Mammogram and MRI equipment. Schumer explained that this backlog problem is plaguing VA hospitals around the country, and he is urging the new leaders at the VA to make wholesale changes to its equipment procurement process. Schumer said that continuing to clear this dangerous backlog is crucial for the VA to provide the best possible care for Western New York's veterans.


“The Buffalo VA should not have to wait years on end to receive the high-tech medical equipment they need to test, treat and evaluate patients properly, and I am pleased that some of the equipment they have been waiting on is finally on its way,” said Schumer. “The equipment backlog is beginning to clear, which is excellent news for patients in Western New York and throughout the country, but there are still vital equipment the Buffalo VA needs that remains mired in bureaucratic red tape. I will continue to push to get the Buffalo VA the equipment it needs, including four pieces it is still waiting on. This equipment is necessary in order for doctors at the Buffalo VA to continue their important, life-saving work serving our Western New York veterans.”


During his July 2014 visit to the Vietnam Memorial at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, Schumer explained that when a local VA Hospital needs new, life-saving, often expensive equipment like an MRI machine, Mammogram systems, and newer CT scan devices with lower radiation doses, it must procure the equipment through the VA's National Acquisition Center (NAC). This is where the backlog stems from, as the procurement phase can be very lengthy. As of July 2014, the Buffalo VA had nine pieces of medical equipment that were ordered and budgeted for in 2012 and 2013 that had not yet been awarded or delivered to the Buffalo VA. This meant doctors at the VA were waiting for two years in some cases to get new equipment to treat veterans. While five pieces of equipment have now been awarded to Buffalo’s VA Hospital, Schumer said this backlog must still be cleared, as the hospital is still waiting on four pieces of vital equipment.


Schumer explained that local VA hospitals like Buffalo's are continually ordering new equipment and replacing old and outdated equipment. As a result, there are times when the number of pieces of equipment stuck in the pipeline can be even higher than it is now. Schumer noted that the Buffalo VA Hospital does an excellent job securing medical equipment when it is able to procure items locally, but for larger items, which must be reviewed and managed by the National Acquisition Center in Chicago, that process can often be cumbersome and long. During his 2014 visit, Schumer said industry experts have estimated the national equipment procurement backlog to be as high as 900 pieces of equipment across the country. Schumer noted that many changes are underway at the VA to improve patient care, and he encouraged the new Secretary of the VA to work quickly to address issues in the equipment procurement process.


Schumer said that this focus on addressing the equipment procurement backlog should be in addition to the ongoing effort to speed up patient wait times. In 2014, Schumer supported a bill that would implement a centralized electronic system for scheduling appointments for VA health care, and enable the VA to hire more doctors and nurses to provide timely, quality care for veterans.


According to the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance, the equipment procurement backlog is not just an issue in Western New York, although it is particularly acute at the Buffalo VA. As of 2014, it was estimated that there were roughly 900 pieces of equipment across the entire U.S. stuck in limbo for years in the VA's NAC system that desperately needed approval. Schumer explained that this backlog is plaguing VA hospitals around the country and must be addressed for the sake of our veterans. Schumer is urging the new administration at the VA to make wholesale changes to its equipment procurement process that will allow for better access to care for our veterans overall.

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