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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center again delays opening 24-hour urgent care, this time due to rise in COVID-19 cases

The Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Northwest Spokane in 2018.  (JESSE TINSLEY/The Spokesman-Review)

Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center on Tuesday decided to delay the opening of a 24-hour urgent care center amid the rise of deaths and hospitalizations from the delta variant of COVID-19.

The return of all-day urgent care services, which had first been introduced in early 2018, were scheduled to open by the end of 2021, following several postponements.

Eastern Washington Congresswoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a statement not reopening 24-hour urgent care services would hurt veterans’ ability to get emergency health care.

“While I appreciate Dr. (Robert) Fischer and the team at Mann-Grandstaff’s commitment to restoring 24-hour urgent care for veterans in Eastern Washington, I am disappointed by the decision to delay this essential resource,” McMorris Rodgers said in the statement. “With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise across the state, now is precisely the time we should be working together to expand access to health care services, not limit it.”

The center first postponed its 24-hour urgent care in 2018 due to a $10 billion effort with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to update electronic medical records.

Dr. Robert Fischer, Mann-Grandstaff’s director, told The Spokesman-Review in 2018 he would use all of 2019 to recruit doctors and ensure all the resources necessary to operate 24 hours a day were there.

The medical center currently operates 12 hours a day.

The 24-hour urgent care was then slated to open in March 2020, but again faced delays because the center needed more time to build the system, said Christina Mandreucci, press secretary for the department, in an emailed response to the Spokesman-Review in February 2020.

It was not immediately clear if the center had a set opening date as of Tuesday evening.

“While this delay is unfortunate, it does not change the mission before us,” Rodgers said in her statement. “Restoring these critical services for veterans in our communities remains a top priority for me and my staff, and I look forward to continuing our work with VA leadership to get it done as soon as possible.”