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Veterans Affairs inventory system to stay in place

| Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, 12:21 a.m.

Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have no plans to abandon a controversial new inventory control system at its health facilities despite complaints from its own employees.

VA spokesman Henry L. Huntley said in an email response to questions that implementation of the Shipcom Wireless system is not being halted.

“The point-of-use program office is not considering abandoning the VHA point-of-use inventory site in any live site or discontinuing the program,” Huntley wrote, adding that it is in use in 17 locations, including Pittsburgh.

The announcement marks a reversal for Pittsburgh-area VA employees who had earlier been told the system would be put on hold, at least temporarily. They were told Friday that the Shipcom system would be in use starting this week.

Huntley acknowledged that the program, called Catamaran, was on an “administrative pause” at some locations.

The comments follow the disclosure of an internal email from an inventory control official in Pittsburgh in which he acknowledged widespread complaints about the new system and told workers that an old inventory system would be put in place.

In his email last week, inventory chief Vincent Scalamogna wrote, “Leadership has heard your concerns.”

He added that plans were being developed to revert to the old system.

Huntley, however, said the email “was from him (Scalamogna) directly to his staff regarding only his facility. Local facility chief logistics officers do not have the authority to halt the national implementation.”

He said the implementation of Catamaran has not led to any shortages of needed medical supplies.

“Logistics staff is able to stock consumable medical supplies in the point-of-use locations as required. No serious supply issues have been encountered as a result of the implementation or use of the system,” Huntley wrote, adding that there were no indications that patient care had been jeopardized.

The Shipcom contract could bring revenues of as much as $275 million to the Houston-based company.

Walter F. Roche is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at wrochejr999@gmail.com.

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