A contract clearing the way for on-Island health care for veterans was signed Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., bringing a lengthy wait much closer to an end.
A press release from Cong. William Keating’s office said that the representative received word yesterday that the contract was signed, with three separate contracts for the Martha’s Vineyard VA, including contracts for x-ray and laboratory work along with the main contract, consolidated into one comprehensive contract. This “will expedite the contract as it moves to Providence,” the press release from Mr. Keating’s office said.
After going to the Providence VA Center for final approval, the paperwork will go to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, which will have 30 days to execute the contract. Last week, Vineyard hospital president and chief executive officer Timothy Walsh told the Gazette that the hospital would be able to quickly execute the contract once it is approved.
“This is great news for the Martha’s Vineyard community,” Congressman Keating said in the statement that went out late Monday. “Our veterans deserve access to quality health services and the process to get them that has been long and arduous. My father was a veterans service agent for decades, and I know how important it is to get veterans the care they need when they need it. Finalizing this contract is well overdue and I am happy that it has moved out of Washington and is closer than ever to being completed.”
The contract between the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and the Veterans Administration lapsed several years ago, and veterans have been engaged in a long battle to restore access to primary health care services on the Vineyard. While prescriptions and some services were offered on-Island, the lack of a contract at the Vineyard hospital meant that veterans, some of them elderly, were forced to travel to Hyannis or Providence for most of their health care needs.
In January, Congressman Keating, state Sen. Dan Wolf and state Rep. Tim Madden met with veterans about the issue, and earlier this month, Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown sent a letter to the Providence VA inquiring about the issue.
The press release said Congressman Keating has been lobbying for the VA contract since taking office in January 2010.