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Oklahoma City veterans hospital sees surgeon shortage

November 12, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Health Care System is working to fill positions after the unexpected departure of two employees left the hospital without a general surgeon on call or available for overnight emergencies for a number of days this month.

Paul Munden, the hospital’s chief of surgery, informed staff and administrators in an email on Oct. 31 that his team was down to a single full-time surgeon, The Oklahoman reported . One surgeon left because of unspecified personal reasons, while the other departed because of a completed visa process.

Munden’s email indicated that the facility would be short-staffed during several periods, including Nov. 1-5, Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 21-27.

The hospital still performs general surgery, but lacks a provider to cover all evening hours, according to Director Wade Vlosich.

Some veterans will be transferred elsewhere during the surgeon shortage. The Department of Veterans Affairs has programs that allow for veterans to receive care outside of VA hospitals, so patients who are transferred won’t be billed extra.

“We actually met with (the University of Oklahoma) and they knew this workload would be coming and knew about our loss of staff. So, it was not a surprise to them,” Vlosich said.

A new surgeon starts Tuesday and another will start Nov. 25, Vlosich said. He said the surgeon shortage is “a fairly common thing” and is “a mini blip.”

The VA is also seeking to fill another surgery position to avoid a similar shortage in the future, Vlosich said.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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