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Cartwright, Meuser & Garrity: Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Takes a Good First Step

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Today, Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Congressman Dan Meuser (PA-09), and Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity said that some policies at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center have improved since they met with officials at the VAMC last week.

Specifically, the VAMC announced this week that it has updated its masking policy, making wearing a mask optional for Veterans, staff, visitors and volunteers. The policy is subject to change in the event of a future COVID outbreak.

Congressman Cartwright, Congressman Meuser and Treasurer Garrity said this change, which is in line with policies at similar facilities across Pennsylvania, is a significant step forward.

“While we’re encouraged by the progress the Wilkes-Barre VA has made in response to our requests, we remain steadfast in our efforts to ensure VA protocols continue to move in the right direction. The Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center needs quality volunteers and more nursing and technical staff. The right policies to attract and retain caregivers is crucial, and this issue needs careful work going forward.””

Congressman, Matt Cartwright (PA-08)

“I’m pleased that our recent meeting with Director Lloyd is already yielding positive results. While this is a step in the right direction, more still must be done to ensure an overall positive patient experience for our local veterans.”

Congressman, Dan Meuser (PA-09)

“Updating the masking policy is a key step because it will open the door for other important changes, such as increasing the number of activities offered to Veterans and encouraging more volunteers to help at the Medical Center. This is good progress, but it’s not a complete solution in and of itself. We will be vigilant to ensure that positive changes continue to be made.”

Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Stacy Garrity

Last week, Congressman Cartwright, Congressman Meuser and Treasurer Garrity met with Medical Center Director Russell E. Lloyd and other officials. They discussed a variety of concerns raised by constituents and urged the VAMC officials to:

  • Increase the number of activities offered to veterans to pre-pandemic levels;
  • Create guidelines and policies that encourage volunteers and retain staff;
  • Update masking and vaccination standards to maximize access for volunteers;
  • Create an outbreak plan that is consistent and maximizes morale for both veterans and staff;
  • Resume Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (SARRTP) activities consistent with pre-pandemic plans;
  • Increase nurse staffing levels;
  • Enhance the phone systems; and
  • Improve focus on quality-of-life concerns.

In addition to the updated masking policy, the VAMC has started to schedule additional SARRTP activities.

Congressman Cartwright, Congressman Meuser and Treasurer Garrity said they will continue to closely monitor the situation at the Wilkes-Barre VAMC. They encouraged patients, family, friends and volunteers to reach out to their offices with any concerns.

Media contacts:
Samantha Heckel, Press Secretary (Treasury), 717-418-0206 or
Matthew Hanrahan (Congressman Meuser),
Wendy Wilson (Congressman Cartwright),

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