The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that the VA Black Hills Health Care System (VA BHHCS) will initiate an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as part of due diligence to evaluate the impact of the proposed reconfiguration of services in the VA BHHCS. The VA BHHCS’ proposal is to enhance the delivery of high quality, safe, and accessible care closer to Veterans’ homes throughout the VA BHHCS service area which includes western South Dakota, northwestern Nebraska, parts of eastern Wyoming, and southwestern North Dakota.
The EIS will include an evaluation of the impact on local communities and historic properties. Following completion of VA’s due diligence, the Secretary can make a final decision about the reconfiguration of VA BHHCS. NEPA, enacted in 1969, requires Federal agencies to identify and evaluate the potential impacts of a proposed action on the environment. This is accomplished by a thorough analysis of a range of potential alternatives and potentially affected resources, incorporating input from the public as well as other governmental agencies.
The EIS will begin within the next few months. This study is designed to include all interested people and organizations. Additional information regarding participation will be available at a later date. A Notice of Intent (NOI) signaling the formal start of the NEPA process will be published soon in the Federal Register.
The major components of the proposed reconfiguration plan involve: purchasing more healthcare services closer to Veterans’ homes, strengthening partnerships with Indian Health Service, Tribal Health agencies, Department of Defense, and private-sector health care facilities; and supporting the development of new VA health care facilities. If the proposed reconfiguration is approved, it would include the establishment of a community-based outpatient clinic in Hot Springs. The existing residential rehabilitation treatment program in Hot Springs would relocate to Rapid City, SD and the Rapid City community-based outpatient clinic would be expanded. Veterans who previously received inpatient care at the VA Hot Springs hospital would be able to receive VA-funded care in their local communities or at the Fort Meade VA hospital. Veterans could also choose to continue to receive services at other VA hospitals. There will be no lapse in services for the Veteran community.
This proposed reconfiguration was first presented to the public in December 2011 by VA Black Hills and VISN 23 Leadership. Since that date, VA officials have been communicating the proposal throughout South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming, gathering feedback, and continuing to develop the range of alternatives for analysis.
For more information, please review the EIS Fact Sheet.
The Department of Veterans Affairs VA Black Hills Health Care System (VABHHCS) is committed to providing high-quality health care to the Veterans in western South Dakota, northwestern Nebraska and eastern Wyoming. We have conducted a thorough review of the services provided in this region and believe that improvements and reconfigurations are needed to increase the scope of health care services that will be provided to Veterans at points of care closer to their homes.
VABHHCS proposes a reconfiguration of existing services and an expansion of the points of access to health care and maintain the quality of that care so as to better serve Veterans throughout the coverage area. The overall goal is to realign services and resources to provide high quality, safe, cost effective care closer to where Veterans live.
At Hot Springs:
- Reconfigure services by closing the inpatient and nursing home units, the operating rooms and urgent care facilities
- These services would then be purchased at Fall River Hospital and other community hospitals closer to Veterans’ homes
- Gradually reduce the number of VA employees in Hot Springs; no VA employees will lose their jobs
- Build a new Community Based Outpatient Clinic with a dialysis unit either co-located with the Fall River Hospital or the State Veterans Home, or free-standing
- Buy pharmacy, laboratory and x-ray services at Fall River Hospital
In Rapid City:
- Build or lease a new clinic site that will increase our capacity for Veterans by 35% and add x-ray, lab, pharmacy and physical therapy departments
- Build a new Domiciliary (now called a Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program - RRTP) to replace the existing Hot Springs facility; may be co-located with the new clinic
- Veterans in this program will benefit from increased access to occupational training, state-of-the-art neighborhood-like facilities and access to job sites and other community services. A new RRTP would also be designed to accommodate more female Veterans and single-parent Veterans with children.
At Fort Meade:
- Build new Operating Rooms to improve our ability to provide excellent surgical care with state of the art, technologically-advanced operating rooms and support facilities
- Renovate the existing inpatient medicine/surgery unit, relocate the intensive care unit, and build a new sterile supplies processing unit.
Throughout our area of coverage:
- Expand our partnerships with our community health care partners
- Buy more inpatient and outpatient healthcare services in or near Veterans’ hometowns; reduce the distance Veterans travel to obtain services and reduce Veterans’ personal out-of-pocket expenses for travel
- Expand the use of VA nurses as case management and care coordination resources
- Veterans who already receive care at our VA clinics at Hot Springs, Rapid City or Fort Meade are being cared for by our Patient Aligned Care Teams members, including a primary care provider (a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant) and their support staff
- Veterans who do not receive day-to-day care at one of our VA sites will have a VA nurse to help with referrals for VA and non-VA care and questions and concerns.
Years 1 – 2
Years 2 – 4
- Occupy the new Hot Springs clinic
- Buy inpatient, nursing home, urgent care services lab, pharmacy, X-ray from Fall River Hospital and other community hospitals
- Explore opportunity for repurposed Hot Springs buildings through public, private, and non-profit partnerships; maintain in compliance with National Landmark Status
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Attn: Directors Office
113 Comanche Road
Fort Meade, SD 57747
Attn: Director's Office
500 North 5th Street
Hot Springs, SD 57747