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Good Care at the Armed Forces Retirement Home

Thursday, June 9, 2005

A lawsuit brought against the Armed Forces Retirement Home ["Veterans Sue Over Care at D.C. Home," Metro, May 25] said that changes in health services at the home endanger the health of residents. Not true.

We operate a fully accredited, 200-bed center for primary, intermediate and skilled health care. A physician is on duty at our treatment room every weekday. A registered nurse is on duty after hours. Physicians are on call 24 hours a day. We provide dentists; physical, occupational and recreational therapists; and speech-language pathologists. Residents can choose their physicians, and we provide them transportation to area hospitals, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Washington's Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

We just opened ophthalmology, dental and ambulatory care clinics at a renovated building on our campus, and we will soon start our first pulmonary program and a diabetic teaching program.

Congress instructed the Armed Forces Retirement Home to reduce expenses. To that end, we closed an in-house pharmacy, but we offer same-day pickup of prescriptions from Walter Reed at a medication room.

We discontinued use of our old

X-ray equipment two years ago when it was determined to be unsafe. Now that service is provided by a vendor who comes to the residents' bedsides or rooms. We also provide electrocardiogram services when physicians request them.

We advise all residents to call 911 in an emergency. Our campus is across the street from Washington Hospital Center, which provides superb care.

It is true that the death rate at the home increased between 2000 and 2003, but that is because we introduced hospice care. Instead of being sent to a hospital to die, the terminally ill now end their days at the home, in dignity and comfort and near their friends.

Change is difficult, but every consumer of health services knows that change is necessary to cope with staggering increases in costs, particularly for the elderly. We are proud of our health services and proud that our residents, regardless of income, have access to the best care available in the area. They deserve it.

TIMOTHY COX

Chief Executive

Armed Forces Retirement Home

Washington

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