El Paso VA Offices Criticized
POSTED: Thursday, September 30, 2010 - 9:12am
UPDATED: Friday, October 1, 2010 - 6:48am
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.