White Coat Notes

Merger for Boston, Bedford veterans health care systems nixed

The VA New England Healthcare System said Tuesday that it has dropped plans to make the Bedford VA Medical Center part of the Boston system.

The regional VA office proposed the merger in 2011 and received a lot of input from patients and others concerned that “an integration might sort of swallow up the Bedford” campuses, said spokeswoman Maureen Heard. “We listened to that feedback.”

The Bedford network includes the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital and four outpatient clinics. Boston’s system is made up of three medical centers that have been integrated since the late 1990s: Brockton, West Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain.

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Heard said the agency plans instead to make several changes to improve the quality of care for patients who use both the Boston and Bedford sites, including better integrating appointment-keeping systems and medical records, adjusting the shuttle service, and eventually allowing more physicians to have privileges to see patients in both systems. Bedford will continue to have its own leadership team.

“It’s going to be a separate and distinct hospital, but we are doing things to really try and make it better for the patients without the integration,” Heard said.

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