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Donovan leads successful effort to keep services at Brooklyn Veterans Hospital

Fighting mad: More than 100 protesters turned out to oppose the closure of the in-patient-surgery wing of the Brooklyn Veterans Affairs Hospital when it was first proposed in 2015.
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The Brooklyn doctors are in — and they will be for the foreseeable future.

The Brooklyn Veterans Affairs Hospital at Fort Hamilton will continue to offer critical inpatient surgeries to local vets rather than shipping them out to the distant isle of Manhattan, a proposal that the federal Department of Veterans Affairs was reportedly considering, according to a spokesperson at New York Harbor Healthcare, the system that provides healthcare services to local veterans.

The decision against the move came after Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge) led a bipartisan coalition in August urging Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin to reconsider, citing the hardship of the commute into Manhattan that Staten Island and Brooklyn veterans — and particularly the elderly and disabled — would face.

“Our veterans have sacrificed enough, and they shouldn’t have to trek to Manhattan for medical care,” Donovan said in the statement.

Donovan sent the letter — which was co-signed by Borough President Adams, state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), and other local pols — to Shulkin on Aug. 16.

The change would have reclassified the Brooklyn hospital from “complex” to “ambulatory advanced,” meaning that the doctors — and the equipment — needed to perform surgeries including open-heart procedures, joint reconstructions, coronary artery bypass grafts, and even appendectomies would have been shipped to Manhattan.

Donovan also cited in the letter that the Brooklyn hospital was a “critical facility” for local veterans following Hurricane Sandy, when the Manhattan hospital was damaged by the storm and closed for months, showing that the change to the Brooklyn hospital could make a future natural disaster even more dire for local vets if the Brooklyn hospital was not equipped with adequate equipment or personnel to perform critical surgeries after another superstorm.

The long back-and-forth over the decision — which was first proposed in 2015 — was an essential and normal process of federal and state agencies determining the most effective ways to help local veterans, said a spokeswoman at New York Harbor Healthcare.

“There’s a constant ongoing assessment on how to serve veterans best,” said Claudia Benjamin.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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