HCA Healthcare
June 05, 2019


Source: Asheville Citizen Times
Author: John Boyle

During high volume times, the Charles George VA Medical Center will institute "diversion status," directing some incoming patients to other nearby health care facilities.(Photo: Citizen Times file photo)

Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:

Question: Recently, I was informed that all beds were full at the Charles George VA Medical Center, and all potential patient veterans in need of possible care that involved admission to a hospital were being sent to Mission Hospital for medical care, even if their medical preference was VA care instead of Mission. Could the Answer Man look into this? I am sure the general public, especially vets, are not aware of this, would be interested in knowing about it and would like to know how long this has been the case and how often it has happened in the last few years. Personally, I suspect that because the Charles George VA has such a high reputation for quality health care, it is full because so many vets travel here from other areas to use Charles George.

My answer: I've got to think the "No Vacancy" sign will not go over well.

Real answer: The Charles George VA does have a solid reputation these days, and that contributes to its popularity, which can translate into high demand for beds.

That demand can result in what the VA calls "diversion status." Charles George VA spokesman Shahron James sent me an email explanation of how this works.

"For veterans who need to be admitted to the hospital due to their medical condition, there are times when we are not able to accommodate them in our facility due to being on Diversion status," James said. "Diversion status is a direct reflection of inpatient bed availability and our ability to safely accept and care for veterans who transfer from outside VA and non-VA facilities."

The diversion status can affect a patient en route to the VA.

"In the event that a veteran is in transit to our facility via ambulance, the ambulance may be diverted to the closest hospital that can provide the required services," James said. "The process of activating diversion (diverting ambulances) has been in place for many years and is similar to the process used at other VA and community hospitals."

But James offered an important clarifier.

"This does not mean that veterans who arrive at our facility when we are in diversion status are turned away," James said.

When a veteran arrives to the VA's Emergency Department via private vehicle, she or he will be medically screened in accordance federal regulations.

"After screening, a VA bed appropriate to the veteran’s need may be assigned; if a bed is not available, the veteran may be referred to another facility," James said. "Because there are always patients being discharged from our inpatient beds on a daily basis, the period of time we are on diversion status typically does not exceed 24 hours."

James also noted that since Charles George opened its remodeled medicine unit, which reactivated 20 acute care inpatient beds in December 2018, the incidences of diversion have decreased. He did not provide specific numbers of diversion status incidents.

Asheville Regional Airport opened its new $22 million parking garage in 2018.(Photo: Citizen Times file photo)

Question: The new parking deck at the Asheville Airport is very curious. To leave the deck, you have to stop to open an automatic gate. After driving about 50 yards, you enter your parking ticket to open another gate. Then after driving a bit further, you have to stop to open another automatic gate before reaching the exit booth where you pay. What are the reasons for all these seemingly unnecessary gates?

My answer: I would like to congratulate this deck for being not only curious, but also possessing an uncanny ability to generate reader questions. Thanks for the employment security, oh great parking deck!

Real answer: "We offer three different parking options, all with different fees associated; and, the different parking areas are adjacent to one another in some areas," Asheville Regional Airport spokeswoman Tina Kinsey said. "The gates and ticket validation systems are used to help with wayfinding, as well as to verify parking fee information so customers are charged the correct amount upon exit."

This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or email