Friday, October 17, 2014 - 11:31am

El Paso VA Offices Criticized

El Paso VA Offices Criticized

POSTED: Thursday, September 30, 2010 - 10:12am

UPDATED: Friday, October 1, 2010 - 7:48am

EL PASO- Call it a reprimand.  A recent report from the Department of Veteran's Affairs criticized the El Paso VA.

It said the office did not properly handle suicidal patients.  The report focused on something called 'Suicide Prevention Safety Plans'.

They're designed to help veterans get through suicidal thoughts and prevent them in the future.

"It's a plan for ensuring that the veteran doesn't reach the point to where they feel there's no other option," says Jennifer Suitonu, Chief of Quality and Systems Improvement.

The report said the El Paso VA didn't provide a plan to each patient at high-risk of suicide.

The local office agreed, and has taken steps to improve the process.

"When you have an out-patient that comes in and is identified as being high risk for suicide, it's very easy to implement a suicide safety plan," says Suitonu.

But it's not as easy when veterans seek care from private places.  The VA is still responsible for developing plans for those veterans, but it's harder to do when patients are somewhere else.

The issue stems from not being able to treat their patients in-house.

"We would love to have an in-patient setting, but it's just not a reality at this point," Suitonu says.

Funding needs to be approved on a congressional level before in-patient treatment can begin.

The VA says it will help veterans the best it can, but the best care won't happen until vets can be treated in-house.

Comments News Comments

If the El Paso VAHCC would provide adequate health care for vets medical issues there wouldn't be as many suicides. The Mental Health Department isn't the problem, it's the lack of professional physicians, assistants and nurses that are capable and caring enough to take care of the medical issues before they become a psych issue. As a Registered Nurse I've worked in max secure prisons and can guarantee rapists and murderers are getting far better health care than whats offered at the El Paso VA

We seem to forget the real crux of the issue, the services provided at the El Paso VA Medical Center are and will remain restricted/limited as long as it is not a full service 24/7 hospital. This facility should not and cannot be compared to the full service VA hospitals such as those in our region for example, Albuquerque and Tucson. Take the time to write your Congressman and Senator implore them to consider establishing a full VA Hospital, the demand/need is here.

Same old story, wait until the crash before putting up the red light.
This VA Health Care Center (Not Medical Center or Clinic) still does business their way.
They only care about numbers not patients. As long as they can make the director look good everthing is O.K.. When patients get dropped (lost) in the cracks that's where they stay.
Too many people are underqualified working in overpaid jobs.

Former Employee

Ahh, nothing like a fair unbiased assessment from a former disgruntled employee who surely made every effort to make a contribution to improve the facility during their tenure. No doubt the VA has warts, but as a retired Vet I can honestly state the level of care and services available have improved from 5 or 10 years ago.

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