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To the Wyoming Legislature,

I am Dr. Lee Warren, Casper’s only neurosurgeon and currently the only neurosurgeon doing trauma brain and spine surgery in the state of Wyoming, save a little work being done in Cheyenne by a part-time surgeon there who refers most complex patients south into Colorado.

I work at Wyoming Medical Center, the hub of trauma care for the vast majority of the patients in the state.

I’m also a veteran, fourteen years in the US Air Force, retired as a major, and deployed to both Germany (2004) and Iraq (2004-5) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This letter is to seek your support in placing the planned VA nursing home in Casper rather than Buffalo. Casper is the major medical destination for the state. People in nursing homes have frequent need for high-acuity medical care when they fall, have strokes, suffer heart failure or heart attacks, etc. Those patients wind up in Emergency Departments, and if the patient’s needs exceed the capabilities of the local facility, they must be transferred to another city at great cost, with significant treatment delay and often at the risk of a worse outcome.

Buffalo is a very small town, lovely as it is. But the local hospital there transfers even very simple cases to us because they are a very small facility and lack most all specialty capabilities. Most of the time, Buffalo calls Casper when they have someone whose problem is too complex or the patient is too sick to stay in Buffalo.

So the question is, why would the state put a high-risk group of patients — veterans — in a facility in a town where the things that inevitably will happen to them cannot be handled locally?

Wyoming has a jewel of a medical center in Casper. A world-class referral center full of world-class doctors. And we will be the place Buffalo’s small hospital calls when these veterans need help.

Why would we not place the facility in Casper, where the medical care is already available?

This should not be a political decision. It should be a medical decision.

Casper is the only medical community in the state where our veterans can have all the care they need, locally, in a timely fashion and at reasonable cost.

I implore you to lead on this issue, and to help the state legislature make the best decision for our veterans and for our state’s medical system.

Please feel free to reach out to me if I can provide any further information for you as you deliberate this decision.

Thank you for your service to our state.

God bless you.

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W. Lee Warren, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon and an Iraq War veteran. He is on the board of directors of Wyoming Medical Center. He also writes on neuroscience and faith at www.wleewarrenmd.com, and his books are available online and at local bookstores.

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