SPOKANE, Wash. -Nearly 30 years after serving in the Gulf War, 61-year-old Lee LeTeff is fighting a different battle: She wants better access to health care.
“My back, my neck, my hips, my knees, my ankles, my elbows, and my wrist,” said LeTeff. “Every joint hurt if I move it past a certain point.”
LeTeff is one of the countless veterans whose health needs require care from a Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
For LeTeff, it means getting in a car and driving from Moses Lake to Spokane.
“It took over three and three-quarter hours to get here,” said LeTeff. “The bombs didn’t stop falling at 6 o’clock, why should the doors to our emergency services be closed at 6 o’clock?”
Due to a physician shortage, the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC hours were reduced in 2014. The 24-hour Emergency Department transitioned into an Urgent Care Center operating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The hospital also stopped accepting patient emergencies via ambulance.
But according to a spokesperson with the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC, the VA has since recruited and hired new physicians, including a new Urgent Care Center director and is anticipating a return to 24-hour care sometime this year.
It’s unknown exactly when that will go into effect. It’s also unknown if the VA will begin to accept patient emergencies via ambulance once again.