Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

VA Town Meeting Brings More Thanks Than Complaints

Charlotte Albright
Brenda Cruikshank, State Commander, VFW, chats with Deborah Amdur, Director, VA Hospital at White River Junction, prior to public forum at the hospital.

Veterans and their families got a chance to weigh in on services provided at the VA Hospital Junction at a Town Hall style meeting on Monday. The meeting is part of a national effort to improve communication about the way the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs functions.

The White River Junction VA Town Meeting is one in a nationwide series of forums in the wake of scandals about long waiting times and poor services in other parts of the country.

But here in Vermont, the several dozen people who showed up seemed in general satisfied with the care they are receiving. In fact, some family members, including Connie Zullo Barth, showered praise on the hospital.

“My father who was 94 years old, died in August, was cared for here at the VA, received the most wonderful compassionate care anyone could ask for,” she told the panel of VA doctors and administrators.

Others echoed those sentiments. But a few want to get quicker medical attention. Lisa Sloan is the State Commander of Disabled American Vets of Vermont. She said if she calls for an appointment after 7 a.m., she rarely gets seen the same day at her Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Bennington. “So what do I do in that case if it’s not [emergency] care where I need to go to the emergency room?” Sloan asked.

VA officials replied that most clinics can see patients the same day they call, if the illness warrants immediate attention. And Director Deborah Amdur said the hospital in White River is still trying to recruit more doctors to add specialties like cataract surgery.

She also promised to address another concern—a centralized call center that re-routes after-hours calls to Ohio.

“They are staffed with nurses, they can access your medical record there, so they can check what’s going on and consult with you but for many folks that does not feel like an ideal option so we are looking at that,” Amdur said.

Amdur says the VA Hospital is also adding a new building to handle sterilization of surgical tools. That news was greeted with approval, although some asked that more notice be given about blasting on the site. And Derek Levin, of Hartland, wants the local VA hospital to get better at spreading  information about its services to the wider community.

“We outside don’t know what’s going on inside,” Levin lamented.

A few heads nodded, and some suggested an overhaul of what they said is a website that’s hard to navigate. In fact, several said this Town Meeting was not well publicized.

Director Amdur promised to make it easier to learn about what the Hospital is doing to improve access to veteran care.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
Latest Stories