SCHUMER REVEALS: VA SET TO CLOSE ESSENTIAL VETERANS OUTPATIENT HEALTH CENTER IN ERIE COUNTY; SENATOR URGES DEPARTMENT TO REVERSE COURSE; SAYS ABANDONING LOCAL VETERANS WITHOUT ALTERNATIVE IN PLACE IS UNACCEPTABLE
Since 2011, The Amherst-Based VA Outpatient Has Provided Top-Notch Medical Treatment, Physical Therapy, Recreational Activites And Cognitive Care To An Average Of 37 Local Veterans Per Day
Last Week, The VA Announced They Would Be Shutting Down The Health Center; Schumer Today Called On The Department To Reconsider And Develop An Alternate Plan At Once
Schumer To Feds: Shutting Down The Amherst Health Center Without A Viable Alternative In Place Is An Affront To Our Veterans
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today wrote to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to urge them to reconsider their decision to close the VA outpatient veterans’ health center in the Northtown Plaza in Amherst, New York, and to develop an alternate plan for local veterans immediately. Schumer explained that last week, patients at the clinic – mostly veterans of World War II and the Korean War – received a notice that the outpatient health center would soon be shuttering its doors. Schumer said that veterans from across Erie County and Western New York rely on the outpatient center for top-notch medical care, and that closing the center would force the veterans, who risked their lives to defend the United States, to find their own care at private and community-based programs.
“The Amherst outpatient health center plays an essential role in the lives of veterans across Erie County and Western New York, and shutting it down without a viable alternative in place would be an affront to the veterans who sacrificed so much to defend our nation,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I’m calling on the VA to reconsider their decision to close this essential facility at once. Providing our veterans with first-rate medical treatment and services is one of my utmost priorities, and something that I’ll always fight tirelessly for.”
Schumer said that since 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient veterans’ health center in Amherst, N.Y. has provided top-notch medical treatment, physical therapy, and cognitive care to veterans in Erie County and Western New York. According to Schumer, the health center sees an average of 37 patients on a daily basis. In addition to the medical treatment they receive, the center offers recreational activities, meals and health education, all of which are critical for seniors who may be living in isolation. Additionally, in having veterans visit the clinic 2-3 days per week, the health center is able to provide relief to the veterans’ caregivers, which is often a family member, allowing them to work a full-time job and manage their own day-to-day needs. Schumer said that the veterans who have been receiving care from the health center have formed tight bonds with one another, which have helped them in their recovery and ongoing health maintenance, that cannot simply be replicated overnight at different care centers. Schumer stated that expecting these veterans, who have honorably and loyally served their country, to now find their own care at private and community-based programs is an affront to the United States’ duty to serve and protect its veterans.
Schumer added, “This center gives veterans a safe place to go multiple days each week, and access to this center can be the difference between allowing them to continue living at home or needing to move into a full-time care facility. It helps our veterans maintain the lifestyles that they want and deserve. Further, this center allows our veterans’ at-home caregivers – who are often loved ones with jobs and families of their own – the ability to work and rest, with the assurance their loved one is receiving the care that they need. Closing this center will have a far-reaching, detrimental ripple effect into the Amherst community.”
Schumer explained that he understands the unique challenges the VA faces, as well as the uncertainty the VA faces in terms of current location of the outpatient clinic. However, Schumer added, the VA-provided medical treatment services, as well as the community the staff and patients at the Amherst health center have created, play a critical role for veterans in Erie County. Schumer explained that for these reasons, he’s urging the VA to consider an alternate plan for these veterans, including moving the center to another location in Amherst or one of the surrounding towns.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the VA appears below:
Dear Secretary Wilkie,
I write today to urge you to reconsider the closing of the outpatient veterans health center in Amherst, New York. Last week, patients at the clinic - mostly veterans of WWII and the Korean War - received a notice that the center would be closing. A number of constituents have reached out to my office to protest this decision.
Since 2011, hundreds of veterans have received top-notch medical treatment, physical therapy, and cognitive care at this facility, with an average of 37 patients coming through the doors on a daily basis, many of whom come to receive adult day health care services multiple days a week. Additionally, those who have been receiving services have formed tight bonds that undoubtedly have aided in their recovery and help provide them the lifestyles they want and deserve. Expecting these veterans, who have honorably and loyally served their country, to now find their own care at private and community-based programs is an affront to our nation's duty to serve and protect our veterans.
I understand the unique challenges the VA faces, and that this particular center has an uncertain future in its current location. However, I also understand the value of these VA-provided medical treatment services, as well as the community the staff and patients in the Northtown Plaza clinic have created. For this reason, I urge you to consider an alternate plan for these veterans, including moving the center to another location in Amherst or one of the surrounding towns.
If you have questions, or if I may be of further assistance, please contact my office.
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