The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is delaying its Electronic Health Records Modernization (EHRM) program deployment schedule at the second location in Columbus, Ohio, amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

VA delayed the EHRM program deployment to April 30, from the previously scheduled date of March 5.

“Our primary mission is to serve veterans,” said Dr. Terry Adirim, program executive director of the EHRM Integration Office. “As we see the pandemic surge in the Columbus community, we need to support the medical professionals while they focus their attention on meeting the health care needs of their patients. EHR deployment activities must be weighed against community health and can be resumed when it is appropriate to do so.”

VA said about 209 employees are “unable to work” at the Ohio location due to the COVID-19 surge. EHR deployment during this time “would risk significant impact to health care operations at the facility and the ability of staff to adequately serve veterans,” the agency said.

Members of Congress have expressed concern over the rapid deployment schedule for 2022 amid existing EHRM problems in at VA facilities in Spokane, Wash., such as worsened employee morale and job satisfaction due to the EHRM deployment.

VA said it will monitor conditions at other upcoming EHRM implementation sites to ensure a “safe deployment.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.