VA Eastern Kansas decreasing positions, possibly adding urgent care center in Topeka

VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System making changes
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 5:15 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Veterans Affairs are making changes to its Eastern Kansas system with decreasing number of positions over the next few years and proposing an urgent care center at the Topeka VA.

The Veterans Affairs Eastern Kansas Healthcare System leaders said they will have 70-100 less employees next year. They will not be through layoffs but through attrition or retirement. Employees will be rearranged and reallocated in the system where they are needed.

“We want to utilize the skills that all of our employees have,” said Rudy Klopfer, Director/CEO, VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System. “Right now, we’re inefficient we need to be able to see more veterans and take care of new veterans and that’s why we need to do this.

Klopfer said their day-to-day operational duties may change but the mission to help veterans won’t.

“We will provide some additional training and orientation to different positions as appropriate and as qualified,” he said.

The discussions also shifted to changes they want to make with the Topeka VA. They want to change the Emergency Department to an urgent care center. Dr. Michael Leeson, Chief of Staff for VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, said the decision was calculated to best help veterans after looking at the data driven research.

“We looked at what times are patients coming in but we also looked at the complexity of those patients and that’s done on a standardized scale and we found that the vast majority of the patients and the condition that they had were conditions that would be appropriate for an urgent care center,” he said. “They didn’t need that ED level of service.”

It has to get approval first from their regional offices and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Central Office (VACO).

Klopfer said he’s given his team to the month of June to come up with a proposal to present to the higher-ups. He doesn’t know when, and if, it will be approved but they are preparing for it as well as looking at other concerns that could happen when they become an urgent care center.

He said, “To make sure we take care of our veterans at the same time and work within our community as we go forward.”

Associate Director of VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System Lisa Curnes was on the call. She said the VA Eastern system isn’t going anywhere.

“We are realigning our resources strategically to be able to continue to provide quality veteran care long into the future and health care systems always do this kind of self-assessments to see how we can be more efficient,” she said.

Associate Director of Patient Care Services Dennis Clapp said they reached out to other Veteran Affairs offices for input on their changes and proposed changes.

“Including those recommended to us by the national program office for emergency medicine as some of our team members have met with them as well,” he said.

The VA Eastern Kansas system has more than 40,000 patients in their system. Klopfer said they have about 2,000 employees.

The health care system includes the Colmery-O-Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka and the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth.

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