Veterans protest after VA hospital’s dialysis center closes


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Monday, a group of veterans gathered outside of the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Medical Center in Jackson to protest the closure of the outpatient dialysis treatment center.

The VA hospital closed the dialysis unit on Saturday despite the push back from veterans in the service. Veterans said in order for them to receive dialysis at the hospital, they have to be admitted through the emergency unit and screened as a walk-in patient.

Some of the veterans believe the closure is a tactic to discourage them from seeking dialysis at the facility. 

“It made me feel like they were just abusing us as veterans. He shouldn’t have had to take the lab. They have a record of him for all the treatment he has. They know he’s a dialysis patient he shouldn’t have to give lab to prove he’s a dialysis patient,” said Clarence Hopkins.

“This is critical treatment that they need. We have gone through times where his treatment has gone awry, and it has caused him critical health issues and that has been in a sisterly unit with the VA not in this unit where he’s been receiving treatment for ten years,” Terilyn Hopkins said. “So, we’re calling all of the congressmen, senators, anybody that has a say so, or anybody that can push the button to get this situation stopped.”

The VA released a statement saying, “The outpatient dialysis unit at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center completed the transition of patients to community care dialysis centers last week. Focusing on VA’s priority to provide high quality, safe health care to each patient, this decision was made after a thorough examination of our aging infrastructure and its limitations. Each Veteran has now been transitioned to a dialysis provider of their choice near their home. While we understand change is sometimes stressful, we believe this transition will provide better quality of life for each Veteran. An interdisciplinary team, including physicians, nurses, and social workers, has been working for the last several months with each affected Veteran to ensure a smooth, successful transition.”

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