Muskogee VA hospital will remain open, U.S. senators end commission that recommended closing it

The VA medical center in Muskogee will remain open after several U.S. senators announced their opposition and end to a commission that recommended closing it.

In March, the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission had suggested in a report that the Muskogee hospital was outdated, and some or all of its services should be moved to facilities closer to Tulsa.

A statement from the senators, released Monday, said they disagreed with the AIR Commission’s process moving forward in the Senate, which signifies the end of the AIR Commission.

“As Senators, we share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s veterans. We believe the recommendations put forth to the AIR Commission are not reflective of that goal, and would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward,” said the statement.

In 2018, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the VA MISSION Act. The law required the Department of Veterans Affairs to research, develop and publish a list of recommendations to modernize VA medical facilities and health care delivery, including facility expansions, relocations, closures or changes in services.

“It was with feelings of great joy and excitement that we will continue to be able to offer services to our veterans,” Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman told FOX23 in response to the news.

Since March, over 16 thousand people signed a petition to save the hospital, and hundreds organized for rallies in support of the hospital.

“If the people would not have exercised their democratic right to freedom of speech, we probably would’ve seen our hospital closed,” Coleman said.

While the hospital will not close, there will still likely be battles to come. The VA still has plans to open a new hospital in downtown Tulsa in the coming years, and that gives Coleman pause.

“As long as there’s going to be any remnants of a conversation of transferring critical services to the Tulsa facility, we’ve got to keep this conversation alive,” he said.

Coleman said the VA promised a $30 million renovation for the Muskogee facility years ago, but that has yet to happen. As Congress goes back to the drawing board, he wants to make a couple things clear for them.

“We want the building renovated as well as guarantees that we’re still going to be a full service hospital and we will settle for nothing less,” he said.

The city plans to hold a festival in celebration of the news Friday at 5:30 p.m. outside the Muskogee Civic Center. Coleman say’s they’ll have vendors and live music performances on hand.





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