U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran paid a visit to Irwin Army Community Hospital (IACH) New Year’s Eve, where toured the facilities and met with officials.
Moran’s primary concerns were the accessibility of IACH to veterans and the ability of the hospital to treat cardiac problems.
Veterans across the state sometimes run into problems when it comes to receiving medical care, he said, and as a member of the Veterans Committee, this is of great concern to him.
One problem veterans consistently have with receiving medical care is distance — they often find themselves traveling greater distances than they otherwise might to find someone who can offer the care they need, Moran said.
He and Brig. Gen. Pat Frank both said they would like to see cooperation between IACH and Geary Community Hospital as well, something else Moran believes could be helpful for veterans in the area.
“We need both (hospitals),” the senator said.
However, IACH has been working with the Kansas Department of Veterans’ affairs to make it easier for area vets to access the care they need. The hospital hasn’t struck an agreement with the VA yet, but if it does, area veterans may be able to receive the care they need on Fort Riley rather than a VA hospital literally hours away from home.
IACH officials will have to make sure it can do this while also caring for the active soldiers and military retirees the hospital was created to serve, but it’s a distinct possibility in the future.
“But if we can put the personnel in place, we now have a facility in which we can care for more people,” Moran said. “That could include veterans, if we can reach an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to accomplish that.”
The senator would be willing to encourage cooperation such cooperation if there’s a possibility it might come to fruition, because he believes distance can be critical when providing care for veterans, especially those who are older or disabled.
Time and distance can also come into play for people who need cardiac care, another issue Moran discussed with Fort Riley officials. Right now, IAH doesn’t have a cardiac doctor on staff. This means people with heart problems have to be transferred to Stormont Vail in Topeka. This is not uncommon in hospitals such as IACH. The hospital is not actively seeking to add a cardiologist to its staff.
Moran would like IACH to be able to serve cardiac patients on site, but said cardiac surgeons and cardiologists are not terribly common in Kansas.