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San Diego’s VA Medical Center Turns 40

Aired 3/15/12 on KPBS News.

San Diego's VA Medical Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary today. The hospital treats more than 75,000 veterans each year.

San Diego's VA Medical Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary today. The hospital treats more than 75,000 veterans each year.

When the VA Medical Center opened in 1972, there were no fax machines or computers. The hospital relied on typewriters and paper records.

Today, the center employs the latest technology and shares electronic medical records with VA hospitals around the world. Acting Director Dr. Robert Smith said that's especially beneficial for veterans who just came to town.

"Think of how important it is to pull those records up, the instant he arrives for care in San Diego," Smith said. "I don't have to send a request and have them faxed. I don't have to hope that someone can mail 'em to me and get 'em to me on time."

Smith said he's aware of the criticism that the VA medical system is too cumbersome and difficult to access. He pointed out they're trying to make it easier for veterans to enroll and get care in a timely way.

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