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Quorum Court Praises Veterans Hospital

by Dan Holtmeyer | June 20, 2014 at 1:13 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE — Washington County gave its official praise Thursday to Fayetteville’s Veterans Affairs hospital for avoiding the lagging care that has consumed other clinics across the country in controversy.

The Quorum Court commended the Veterans Health Care Center of the Ozarks during its monthly meeting Thursday. The meeting also included expanding the county library board and other routine votes.

A recent audit of the Department of Veterans Affairs found severe shortfalls in medical care at clinics across the country for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and other wars.

More than 120,000 veterans waited at least three months for their first appointment for even serious health problems, the audit found. Half never got this first appointment even years after requesting it. The problems led to the resignation of director Eric Shinseki in May.

The Fayetteville facility avoided these problems, according to the audit. Nearly all of 42,000 cases in the audit received appointments within a month.

The hospital and its clinics provide primary care, surgery and other services in almost two dozen counties in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Justice of the Peace Butch Pond, who represents the eastern side of the county south of Goshen, introduced the resolution and said he was proud of the 79-year-old hospital. Support of the resolution was unanimous.

“People drive hundreds of miles from states around here to get the care they get there,” said Eva Madison of Fayetteville, encouraging her fellow justices of the peace to take part in the hospital’s many annual events. “It’s a vibrant facility.”

Tom Lundstrum of the Tontitown area, who joined the Marines decades ago without being deployed to combat, said the hospital should keep working to improve wait times for testing and other services.

“I use the VA myself, and I receive excellent care there,” he said. “Although it’s a wonderful VA facility, it doesn’t mean they have no need for some improvement.”

In other business, the Quorum Court added a position to the library system’s board, which supervises nine public libraries in Farmington, Springdale and other towns. Users check out a million books and other materials each year. For more than a decade, the board has had no Farmington seat. The court changed that Thursday.

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