Marion VA resumes inpatient surgeries

Bockelman says the facility will start out offering inpatient surgeries that are typically low risk for complications.
Bockelman says the facility will start out offering inpatient surgeries that are typically low risk for complications.
On Wednesday, federal law makers from Illinois commended the announcement.
On Wednesday, federal law makers from Illinois commended the announcement.
"We're very confident that we're prepared to do surgery here," said Bockelman.
"We're very confident that we're prepared to do surgery here," said Bockelman.

MARION, IL (KFVS) - It's been more than three years since the Marion VA Medical Center stopped all inpatient surgeries after a spike in patient deaths. On Wednesday, Medical Center Director Paul Bockelman announced they are ready to resume minimally invasive procedures.

The announcement comes after several changes both in procedures and staff. Bockelman says they have new preventative measures in place. Those includes background checks on surgeons.  He says surgeons are then constantly reviewed once they start work at the Marion VA.

Bockelman adds they also increased the number of people who work at the medical center, from 800 to now 1,300.  That includes 50 new doctors as well.

Bockelman says the facility will start out offering inpatient surgeries that are typically low risk for complications, such as appendectomies and hernia repair.

"We're very confident that we're prepared to do surgery here," said Bockelman. "We want to make sure we have the trust of veterans in the community. That we can provide excellent services here and we are ready to go."

The facility came under intense scrutiny back in 2007, when a surgeon resigned after a patient bled to death following a gall bladder surgery. Investigators later found at least nine patients died between October 2006 and March 2007 from substandard care.

Since then the Marion VA has received successful reviews from the VA's Office of the Inspector general, and Medical Inspector along with other agencies.

On Wednesday, federal law makers from Illinois commended the announcement.  They said restarting impatient surgeries is good news for veterans in southern Illinois.

Bockelman adds the goal is to return to intermediate surgeries but gave no time line for when that would happen.

Meanwhile plans are underway to relocate and expand both the operating room and the emergency department at the Marion VA. The price tag is 13 million dollars. Medical center leaders also have plans to modernize an inpatient ward. Construction set to begin this summer.

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