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Murray hopeful, but skeptical about future of flawed VA health records system

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) speaks to reporters Thursday outside Spokane's Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center.

A new company that bought the firm that developed says it will spend significant resources to try to fix the problems.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray says she’s adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the latest development with a flawed online medical records system at the Veterans Administration.

Oracle recently bought Cerner, the company that created the health records system being tested at Spokane’s Mann-Grandstaff Medical Center. A leaked draft report from the VA’s inspector general last month said the system’s problems caused harm to nearly 150 veterans. Sen. Murray, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, says she is willing to give Oracle a chance to fix the bugs.

“The point of the system is and always has been to get better care for our veterans. The system that we had prior is outdated and not working and we needed to move to a new system. That has not changed. But the fact is, until we get this right and it is not yet right, we need to fix it and we need to really have the VA and the administration focus on getting this done and then expand it to other people," she said.

Murray says she has met with officials from Oracle, but acknowledges she’s skeptical about its claims.

“I want to say this is going to get fixed. It will get fixed. But I have seen too many things go wrong to give you that confidence until Oracle’s on the ground and has the ability to really look at it and they’ve given me and the VA the assurance that they have the top-quality people to do that. I will believe them when I see it," she said.

The VA says it will wait to implement the new system at its hospitals in Washington and the Portland area until at least next spring.

Murray met Thursday with Mann-Grandstaff patients and staff.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.