Sacramento VA Hospital Expands Emergency Department

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RANCHO CORDOVA --

The Sacramento Veterans Affairs Hospital at Mather Field used the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War to dedicate its expanded emergency department on Tuesday.

Several hundred veterans and their families cheered as VA Medical Center director David Stockwell announced that an agreement with Sacramento County would soon allow ambulances to bring vet patients to the new facility.

The upgrade was dedicated to Vietnam-era vets who were also given commemorative pins. It's an attempt to create a different image of the VA hospital that serves veterans in the region, which stretches to the Oregon border.

"This is their ER, they're connected to it, it's emotional for them, and it's state of the art health care too," said Stockwell.

Just two years ago the VA was immersed in scandal after one hospital was accused of doctoring records to hide long waiting lists for VA patients.

Since then, the head of the VA at the time, Eric Shinseki, resigned and more federal money was given to the VA.

Sacramento Vietnam-era vet Joseph Jones said he was one of the ones who was "shuffled off" when trying to get treatment. He says the delay caused him to have neck surgery and he says he still suffers from partial paralysis.

"The services back then was not as good as they are becoming," said Jones.

He pointed out that he passed out during an X-ray appointment a day ago.

"The response they gave to me to get to emergency was amazing," said Jones.

Jones said the upgrade in facilities will be needed as a generation of vets becomes older.

"We really do need to have the services in place so that when we do have incidents we have a place ot come to," said Jones.

Congressman Ami Bera says continued funding for VA medical facilities has to be a bipartisan effort.

"Democrats and Republicans, we should come together to make sure we're doing everything we can to serve our men and women (vets)," said Bera.