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Congressman Gregory W. Meeks to Ask for Suspension of CARES Process at the St. Albans Veteran Campus

Sunday, June 29, 2008 General News J E 4
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JAMAICA, N.Y., June 28 Today, at a pressconference Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) of the Sixth CongressionalDistrict, announced that he will ask Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B.Peake to suspend the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES)and its Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) process currently underway at the St. AlbansPrimary and Extended Care Center.

"After a recent series of meetings with veterans who expressed theirfrustration with the current quality of care as well as the VA's proposedreduction of services I have decided that the CARES process as it relates toSt. Albans may not realize its goal of better providing for our veterans. Atthe end of day, if this process does not provide our veterans with theservices they need then we have failed to serve those who so dutifully servedus. I must ensure that our veterans have confidence in the CARES process andafter several years of actively engaging the VA I still do not have enoughinformation to assure them that the process will adequately meet their needs,"stated Meeks.

"CARES is the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) national plan formodernizing its aging healthcare facilities, determining the clinical role ofits facilities, the consolidation of services and campuses, and the potentialfor enhanced use leases.

"In a 2004 CARES decision, the VA concluded that the St. Albans Campus wasnot designed for modern health care delivery, is aging, and is in need ofreplacement. It began to implement plans to replace the site's infrastructureand the process of leasing the surplus acreage on the site.

"This decision was based on a study that purportedly determined veteranenrollment and utilization for healthcare services over the next 20 years,using enrollment trends and 2003 VA supplied data as a baseline. Itdetermined that the veteran population and need for services would decline inour area. The plans for the new campus were then structured according to thestudy results.

"We must be certain that our armed service members returning from Iraq andAfghanistan as well as our current veterans are adequately counted. The newplans for the St. Albans campus must be designed with an aim toward gainingthe confidence of the veterans community that the facility will provide thebest and highest quality healthcare and services for their needs," statedMeeks.

SOURCE Office of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks
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