September 19. 2017 10:42PM

Manchester VA: Slow, frustrating progress


Dr. Edward Kois, one of the Manchester VA Medical Center whistleblowers, addresses the House Veteran Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Monday in Pembroke. To his right are David Kenney, chairman of the New Hampshire State Veterans Advisory Committee and Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith, director of the Veteran Integrated Service Network One in Boston. (MARK HAYWARD / UNION LEADER)

Local, state, and federal officials are stepping up to address the shocking problems uncovered at the Manchester VA Medical Center. So are local hospitals.

Progress is frustratingly slow, as a moribund federal bureaucracy resists reform. A field hearing of a congressional subcommittee in Pembroke this week brought new allegations from staff members.

Rep. Annie Kuster, the ranking Democrat at the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, is helping to keep a spotlight on the Manchester VA. Such oversight is appropriate as Interim Director Al Montoya tries to rebuild a facility overrun by incompetence.

Catholic Medical Center has opened its doors to VA doctors to treat veterans, and Gov. Chris Sununu waived state licensing regulations to allow the emergency partnership. Perhaps this arrangement can live on even after this crisis has passed.

The federal government has committed an additional $5 million to recruit new staff to run the hospital. The Manchester VA is installing new medical equipment that had been sitting idle.

Institutions do not change overnight. Problems at the Manchester VA don’t disappear merely by shining a light on them. That takes hard work over months, and years.

The sorry state of the Manchester VA was a disgrace. New Hampshire’s strong, rapid, united response to the crisis should be a point of pride.