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Town hall on Oregon's VA Health Care System turns heated

About 70 people attended a town hall meeting at the Eugene VA Healthcare Center, Jan. 4, 2018. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. -- There was a large divide at Thursday night's town hall meeting at the Eugene VA Healthcare Center.

A recent New York Times article has raised concerns about patient care at the Veterans Administration Health Care System in Oregon.

The article claims the Roseburg VA turns away patients to improve their ratings.

We heard both sides of the argument as about 70 people filed into the lobby at the Eugene VA.

We were told cameras could be operating for the first half of the discussion.

"When I'm up in here and running this meeting tonight, the cameras are going to be off," said Douglas Paxton, Director of VA Roseburg.

But this was the instruction during Paxton's introduction, citing HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws.

Veterans, families and staff filled the seats.

“There's a lot of negative stuff regarding the VA and I want to be here to defend them because my healthcare has been excellent," said veteran Paul Noonan.

"I have no problem with my care,” said veteran Gary May. “I get the best care in the world as a veteran; it's the staff, the doctors they are firing."

Nearly halfway through, the town hall turned into a heated argument.

"Things just aren't getting fixed. There's no attention and what's really sad is that you get people that are so upset that you get outbursts like that in there."

Paxton brushed on the recent New York Times article that raised concerns over patient care at the Roseburg VA, saying, “We have had a lot of unwanted negative media."

In October, Oregon congressman Peter DeFazio asked for an investigation of management at the Roseburg VA.

"Veterans are suffering because of the nepotism that exists within the leadership at the Roseburg VA," said former VA surgeon, Dr. Scott Russi.

Paxton said he would speak to those concerned about the NYT article following Thursday night’s meeting.

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