Sharing of Federal Medical Resources in North Chicago/Great Lakes, Illinois, Area

HRD-81-13: Published: Oct 6, 1980. Publicly Released: Oct 6, 1980.

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GAO performed a limited review of the opportunities, the potential for savings and improved patient care, and the obstacles associated with sharing medical resources between the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC), North Chicago, Illinois, and the Naval Regional Medical Center (NRMC), Great Lakes, Illinois. GAO obtained agency officials' views on the effect that the proposed legislation (S. 2958) to encourage the Veterans Administration (VA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and other Federal health care providers to cooperate in the efficient and effective use of Federal medical resources would have on the developing situation between the Federal medical centers in the North Chicago/Great Lakes area.

GAO found that there are opportunities for VAMC, North Chicago, and NRMC, Great Lakes, to share medical resources. Since May 1980, local medical center officials have been involved in independent fact-finding efforts. Discussions have been centered on VA use of about 250 to 300 beds in NRMC, Great Lakes for inpatient care of acute medical and surgical patients. The potential for increased sharing of associated ancillary support services and ambulatory outpatient specialty care capacity at both medical centers is also being considered. The local working group feels that an in-depth analysis of workload, facilities, equipment, personnel, and cost should be pursued. The different missions of VA and the Navy and their facilities must be recognized. Certain issues in the possible consolidation involve highly complex administrative and personnel matters. S. 2958, if enacted, would remove certain legislative and administrative obstacles which have prevented interagency sharing from taking place. However, other administrative and personnel matters being raised in the proposed consolidation may require legislative amendments not included in S. 2958. If consolidation took place, savings to the Government might result from reductions in planned spending on several VA buildings. There would be increased accessibility to care for beneficiaries, and increased use of the presently underused Naval medical center. GAO believes VA and the Navy should proceed with their joint feasibility study.

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