October 19, 2017
Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists Takes Action to Help Veterans Receive Timely Care
Last week, several articles were published reporting that “since early August” the Denver VA Medical Center has cancelled or postponed “65-90 non-emergent surgeries” because of a “shortage of staff, specifically anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists.” The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is committed to ensuring our nations’ Veterans have access to safe, high-quality care and was deeply concerned by these claims.
Since the publishing of these articles, ASA has learned the “shortage” of physician anesthesiologists was temporary and the result of unexpected late summer staff departures, coupled with paternity and maternity leave of staff. Nurse anesthetist departures appear to be part of normal staff turnover. New physician anesthesiologists have been hired for all authorized VA positions and are awaiting formal VA credentialing before starting work. One new physician anesthesiologist started Monday, Oct. 16.
Additionally, upon learning of the cancellations and postponements, numerous members of the Denver physician anesthesiologist community contacted the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) offering their services. CSA also contacted leadership at the University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology to see if assistance could be mobilized from there. The offers of assistance were relayed to VA leadership and these Denver physicians stand ready to assist the facility if needed.
FOX 31 provided an update to this situation on Oct. 18, noting the assistance offered to Denver VA by the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists – watch it here.
Ensuring our nation’s Veterans have safe, timely access to anesthesia care remains one of ASA’s top priorities, and we will continue to monitor this situation closely. ASA applauds CSA and the Denver physician anesthesiologist community for their fast and dedicated response to ensuring high-quality anesthesia care within VA.
Read the full statement by the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists here or below:
Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists Works to Ensure Veterans Have Safe, Timely Access to Anesthesia Care
DENVER – The Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) is collaborating with the University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and several Denver area group practices to offer help to the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in response to recent reports of anesthesia service staffing shortages of both physician anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists.
The CSA learned of the staffing problem after media reports on October 12, and immediately began looking for a solution to the temporary shortage caused by recent staff departures, including both anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. New physician anesthesiologists have been hired for all open VA positions and are expected to be on staff soon.
“It’s critical for our Veterans to receive timely access to anesthesia care and we’re committed to helping the Denver VA and the Veterans it serves,” stated CSA President Joy L. Hawkins, M.D. “We are grateful to Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology at the University of Colorado, for her offer of assistance. We are pleased that others in the physician anesthesiology community in Denver have also offered to help the VA through this temporary shortage."
The University of Colorado has a long-standing relationship with the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System. The VA Medical Center in Denver is a primary training site for residents in the University's anesthesiology residency program and VA physician anesthesiologists, while employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, have faculty appointments with the University.
“CSA understands that contracts for VA services must go through the normal VA contracting process, so we are unsure when these offers of assistance might be put in place,” commented Dr. Hawkins. “But we wanted to help and we were confident that Colorado’s physician anesthesiologists would step forward to ensure that this region’s Veterans get the care they deserve.”