VA Lakeside’s Inpatient Unit to be Closed

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VA Lakeside’s Inpatient Unit to be Closed

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on February 8 that inpatient care at VA Chicago Health Care System—Lakeside Division would be phased out, pending congressional approval. Chicago-area veterans requiring inpatient care would go to VA Chicago’s West Side Division at 820 South Damen Avenue. The VA plans to find a private partner to lease the Lakeside facility and construct an outpatient facility there.

Part of a national effort to consolidate VA facilities, the Lakeside decision came despite an offer of rent-free space in Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Prentice Pavilion. Says Dean Lewis Landsberg, MD, “The decision by the VA will disrupt care for thousands of veterans and ignores better and less costly alternatives. Lakeside provides some of the best-rated patient care in the VA system. We are extremely disappointed in this decision, which does not make sense from either a patient care or economic standpoint.”

Dean Landsberg pointed out VA Lakeside’s outstanding value as a teaching resource for Northwestern medical students and residents and said that the decision was based on a faulty consultant study that “overestimated the return to the VA of selling or leasing Lakeside and underestimated the cost of expanding facilities at VA West Side to accommodate the veterans now being served at Lakeside.”

VA Lakeside officials report that if and when Congress approves the closing of Lakeside’s inpatient unit, it may take as long as several years for that to occur. Meanwhile, the staff is assuring veterans that they will continue to receive inpatient care at Lakeside for the immediate future.

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