VA Health Care:

Need for Brevard Hospital Not Justified

HEHS-95-192: Published: Aug 29, 1995. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) plans to provide accessible medical and other services to veterans in East Central Florida, focusing on: (1) VA acquisition of the former Orlando Naval Hospital; (2) whether the conversion of the hospital to a nursing home is the most economical use of VA resources; and (3) whether more prudent and economical options exist to meet VA service delivery goals for Florida veterans.

GAO found that: (1) VA conversion of the former Naval hospital to a nursing home and the construction of a hospital and nursing home in Brevard County are not a prudent and economical use of VA resources; (2) VA planning assumptions are questionable, particularly those regarding the availability of community nursing home beds and unused VA hospital beds, and the potential decrease in future demand for VA hospital beds; (3) VA could meet its service delivery goals by using existing capacity, which would result in lower costs and greater convenience for the veterans; (4) preserving the Orlando hospital as a hospital would improve the geographic accessibility of VA medical and psychiatric services at a lower cost; (5) the number of unused VA hospital beds is expected to increase because of the projected decline in the veteran population; (6) VA could convert some of the unused medical and surgical beds in the three central Florida hospitals to psychiatric beds to make those beds more geographically accessible to all Florida veterans rather than concentrating them at the new hospital in Brevard County; (7) construction of the Brevard hospital is not justified, since VA greatly overestimated veterans' potential use of Florida VA facilities; and (8) VA needs to focus its strategy on the most prudent and economical use of its limited resources and avoid unnecessary expenditures while meeting its service delivery goals in a more timely manner.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In VA's fiscal year 1996 appropriation, Congress did not approve funding for VA to build a new VA hospital and nursing home in Brevard County, Florida. By its action, Congress, in effect, compelled VA to develop an alternative to building a new hospital, within its existing resources.

    Matter: Congress should deny the VA request for funds to construct a new hospital and nursing home in Brevard County, Florida. Instead, Congress should direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a lower-cost alternative that reflects a network planning strategy.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA's Florida network director considered this option during the development of its strategic plan for meeting veterans health care needs.

    Recommendation: In regard to a lower-cost alternative, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should consider using available beds at the former Orlando Naval Hospital, converting unused medical and surgical beds at existing hospitals for psychiatric use, and purchasing care in community nursing homes when beds are unavailable in existing VA nursing homes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs


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