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Sununu order opens doors for VA docs at other hospitals

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 14. 2017 9:45PM
Al Montoya, Interim Director at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center, center, speaks to the media as Joseph Pepe, MD, left, President and Chief Executive Officer of CMC Healthcare System, and Gov. Chris Sununu, right, listen after Gov. Sununu signed an executive order regarding emergency licensing for Manchester VA physicians at the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester Monday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Veterans Affairs physicians and physician assistants who aren’t licensed in New Hampshire will be able to provide care to veterans in medical facilities throughout the state, under an executive order that Gov. Chris Sununu signed Monday afternoon.

Sununu signed the executive order in a board room of Catholic Medical Center, where he was surrounded by medical staff, CMC administrators, and VA staff.

Sununu said he took action once acting VA director Al Montoya contacted him on Friday with a problem: CMC had opened its doors to VA Medical Center physicians after day surgery areas were flooded by a burst pipe on July 19. But several VA physicians lack a New Hampshire MD license, which means their practice was limited to VA grounds.

In signing the order, Sununu declared the Manchester VA Medical Center in a state of emergency due to the flooding. During a state of emergency, licensing requirements for physicians do not apply, the order reads.

“The message is clear. We’re not going to let bureaucracy get in the way of quality care for our veterans,” Sununu said.

The executive order shrinks the credentialing time for the VA physicians at CMC from two months to two weeks, said CMC President Dr. Joseph Pepe.

“This really opens up care for our vets,” he said.

Sununu’s move took the Board of Medicine by surprise.

“It’s the first I’ve heard about it,” said Peter Danles, executive director of the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification, when contacted by a reporter.

By the late afternoon, Sununu and his office said the Board of Medicine had been informed.

“We’ve talked to the Board of Medicine; we’ve talked to the Attorney General to make sure everybody understood what we needed to do, and everyone agreed,” Sununu said. “This is a federal facility so the New Hampshire Board of Medicine really doesn’t have a lot of direct interaction with federal facilities.”

The order is in effect for 240 days, which should give the VA enough time to repair damage from the burst pipe, Montoya said.

It’s unclear how many physicians and physician assistants the order covers.

Pepe said he discovered the problem Friday, a day after CMC and VA announced that VA physicians would perform day surgery at CMC. When VA physicians sought credentialing at CMC, the hospital realized some lacked a New Hampshire license.

Montoya said four VA physicians perform endoscopies, one of the procedures CMC was hoping to provide initially. Only two of the four are licensed in New Hampshire.

Public Safety Health Politics Manchester Veterans

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