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VA Salt Lake City Health Care System considers ending contract with local hospital

Officials at the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System said a potential lapse in the health system's contract with the Ely, Nev.-based William Bee Ririe Critical Access Hospital and Rural Health Clinic would not cause issues for veterans seeking care, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Shella Stovall, RN, acting medical center director of the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, told the Review-Journal she "doesn't expect any disruption" in patient care if the contract lapses because veterans in the Ely, Nev.-area "will still be able to receive care at the clinic or from other local providers by using their VA 'choice cards'" as part of the Choice Program, according to the report.

Created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2015, the Choice Program allows veterans the option of accessing private providers if they face a wait time of more than 30 days for an appointment, live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility or face "excessive travel burdens," according to the program's website.

Ms. Stovall's comments were in response to letters from U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) which expressed concern over the potential contract termination, according to the report.

Ms. Stovall told the Review-Journal that in addition to responding to Mr. Heller and Mr. Kihuen's concerns, the VA office plans to hold a town hall meeting to address veterans' questions April 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the ElyConvention Center, according to the report.

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