VA recommends new healthcare system in Rapid City

SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has released its set of recommendations for the future of veterans care in the United States, after years of research and analysis.

For South Dakota, the Asset and Infrastructure Review report recommends building a new VA healthcare system in Rapid City, while closing the Wagner Clinic and Fort Meade Hospital.

The report released Monday was released as part of the 2018 Mission Act, which required an assessment of the current and future health care needs of American veterans.

The VA predicts that veteran registrations in South Dakota will decline over the next 10 years.


Four recommendations were made for the future of the VA Hospital in Sioux Falls, including transferring hospital and surgical services to partner health care providers and transforming the emergency department into an urgent care facility, Chief Argus reported.

“At VAMC Sioux Falls, medical and surgical demand for inpatients is currently low. Community providers have adequate capacity to absorb demand from veterans,” according to the report.

The Sioux Falls Community Life Center, however, would see its beds increase by 30 to meet demand from veterans. The Wagner Clinic would be completely closed and services would be transferred to either Yankton, Mitchell or Indian Health Services Clinic, according to the report.

The recommendation said the Fort Meade and Hot Springs hospitals were “unsustainable” as Rapid City became the largest population center in western South Dakota.

The VA will hold listening sessions across the country until next January. The recommendations would be sent to President Joe Biden no later than January 31, 2023, and he then has 45 days to issue his approval or disapproval.