Tomah VA Medical Center
Acute Psychiatry Inpatient Unit Temp Closure
Due to critical psychiatric staff shortages, the 11-bed Acute Psychiatry Inpatient Services unit at the Tomah VA Medical Center temporarily closed today. Tomah-area Veterans requiring Acute Psychiatry inpatient services will be transferred to VA facilities in Madison or Milwaukee or non-VA facilities if VA care is not available. Area Hospitals will be notified of the change.
The medical center will also suspend new admissions to its Community Living Center for Veterans requiring Mental Health Recovery treating specialties until appropriate psychiatric staff is hired.
“Ensuring that Veterans have access to the safe, high-quality care they have earned and deserve is my top concern,” said John Rohrer, Acting Director for the Tomah VA Medical Center. “I do not make this decision lightly. We intend to re-open the unit but will only do so when we have the necessary psychiatric staff to do so safely.”
“It is an on-going search for psychiatric professionals,” said Rohrer. “We have boosted starting salaries, increased our advertising and initiated recruitment bonuses for these critical roles.”
VA is taking the following additional actions:
· Receiving tele-mental health support from other VA facilities
· Receiving support from the Mental Health Leads at other VA facilities.
· Utilizing Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) –psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners to provide in-person or tele-mental health support.
· Expedited recruitment efforts:
o Increasing psychiatrist starting salaries to $240,000.
o Continued advertising in psychiatry-related periodicals.
o Postcard mailing to psychiatrists.
o Considering retention and recruitment bonus for current and prospective psychiatrists who would provide on-site or inpatient services at Tomah (or other locations that are difficult to recruit for) and adjusting fee-basis rates to be commensurate with salary increases.