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The Latest: VA looking at hospital for New Hampshire

Posted August 4

— The Latest on Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin's visit to the embattled veterans hospital in New Hampshire (all times local):

5 p.m.

The nation's top veterans' affairs official says a task force is being formed to explore the possibility of bringing a fully equipped hospital for veterans to New Hampshire.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said Michael F. Mayo-Smith, of the VA New England Healthcare System, would lead the effort that would explore a number of options beyond a stand-alone hospital. Among them would be teaming up with some of the more than two dozen hospitals in the state or forming a public private partnership. The task force is expected to report their findings in January.

The state's Democratic congressional delegation welcomed the creation of the task force, saying they have long demanded a VA hospital in the state after the Manchester medical center stopped providing full services in 1999. Currently, the Manchester facility provides largely outpatient services and veterans must go to a private hospital in Concord or VA facilities in Boston or White River Junction, Vermont, for hospitalization.

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3:17 p.m.

The nation's top veterans affairs official says $30 million will be invested in an embattled veterans hospital in Manchester and a new leadership team will be hired.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin toured Manchester VA Medical Center and met with staff and about a dozen whistleblowers on Friday, who had complained about substandard care at the facility. He also held a town hall meeting with veterans and hospital staff.

Saying he wanted to do better for New Hampshire veterans, Shulkin said the $30 million would go into expanding facilities, repairing areas damaged in a recent flood and other services.

He also announced that a search would begin Friday for a new director, chief of staff and director of nursing and patient care services. He said the move didn't suggest staff had done anything wrong, as much as an indication that it was time to take the facility to the next level.

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7:43 a.m.

The nation's top veterans affairs official is going to be meeting with doctors at the Manchester VA Medical Center who have alleged substandard care at New Hampshire's only hospital for veterans.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin recently removed the hospital's top two leaders and ordered a review after the Boston Globe reported on a whistleblower complaint filed by physicians. He also has ordered the VA's inspector general to launch its own investigation and plans to meet with the state's congressional delegation at the hospital on Friday.

A spokesman for Shulkin said the secretary also plans to meet with the whistleblowers and looks forward to hearing their reviews.

The doctors say they have no confidence in the review and are pressing for investigators from outside the federal government.

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