Press Release

Nurses, veterans, Rep. Tonko denounce VA’s recommendation to close Albany hospital and four area clinics

Five VA nurses inside Albany Stratton VA Medical Center

This event has been postponed due to weather. A new date is to be determined.

Recommendations would eliminate critical services and force veterans to seek care in non-VA facilities

Registered nurses and veterans will be joined by Rep. Paul Tonko in a press conference to denounce the VA’s recommendation to close the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center (Albany VA) and replace it with a facility that will not provide inpatient or outpatient surgeries, inpatient medical care, or emergency services, announced National Nurses United (NNU) today. The hospital closure would force veterans to seek emergency care, inpatient medical care, and both inpatient and outpatient surgical care in non-VA facilities, where studies show outcomes are poorer than those of the VA.

“VA nurses are very proud of the world-class care we provide to our veterans,” said Kevin McKay, an Air Force veteran and registered nurse. “ We are deeply concerned that the VA has recommended to the Asset and Infrastructure and Review (AIR) Commission that the Albany VA hospital be replaced with a facility that offers far fewer critical medical services to our veterans. While we certainly recognize that our facilities must be modernized or replaced, we must not forfeit critical medical services as we make the necessary changes. While we understand these closures may be years away, we also know it is critical to oppose these recommendations now before these plans are finalized.”

“I am proud to join this call to action,” said Rep. Paul Tonko (D-New York). “One of my highest priorities in Congress is ensuring that our veterans get the quality, affordable care they deserve, and that effort begins at the VA. While I am strongly in support of efforts to modernize our local VA facilities and add more critically needed behavioral health care capacity, I have grave concerns about the potential closure of the Albany VA emergency department and several outpatient clinics in the area. Study after study has shown that VA health care provides better outcomes and lower costs for our veterans than non-VA care, and it is absolutely essential that the full spectrum of excellent services at the Albany VA remain available to our Capital-region veterans. We must not privatize our responsibility to those who have bravely served our country. I will fight hard in Congress to keep these life-saving facilities open for generations to come.”

  • What: Nurses, veterans, Tonko denounce recommendation to close Albany VA hospital  
  • Where: Albany Stratton VA Medical Center 113 Holland Ave, Albany, NY

The VA has not only recommended the closure of the Albany VA, but also the closure of four area clinics: the Glen Falls community based out-patient clinic (CBOC), the Clifton Park other outpatient services facility (OOS), the Troy OOS, and the Schenectady OOS. Those closures would mean veterans who currently receive services in Schenectady and Clifton Park would have to travel an additional 20 miles to receive VA care in Albany. In making the recommendations to cut services and close facilities, the VA projected a reduction in demand for veteran care, but nurses report they are seeing a growing need in their units every day.

Studies show patient outcomes are better and care is less expensive at VA hospitals than at hospitals outside the VA system.

A recent study shows mortality rates are far lower for veterans who are treated in VA emergency rooms than for veterans who are treated in other hospitals. The study by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Department of Veterans Affairs found that, overall, the mortality rate after 30 days was 20 percent lower for veterans cared for in VA hospitals. Notably, the advantage was particularly pronounced among Black patients, who saw a drop in mortality rate by nearly 26 percent, and in Latinx patients, for whom the mortality rate dropped by nearly 23 percent.

“We know that veterans are a population with specialized needs that we at the VA have the expertise and capacity to respond to in a timely and sensitive manner,” said Stacey Dawes, RN. “We are extremely concerned that, should our veterans be forced to get services outside of the VA, they will not get the treatment they need and deserve. If a veteran is brought to a non-VA hospital for emergency care, they will lose the immediate connection to the wraparound services that the VA offers. These include immediate access to mental health services, follow-up calls and visits, and other social service programs that are part of the VA’s holistic approach to health care. Our veterans deserve the very best, and the VA is here to offer them just that.”

National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with more than 175,000 members nationwide. NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease, and workplace violence prevention.