CPAC expected to open in 2012 at VA hospital

Lebanon VA Director Robert Callahan Jr. said Tuesday that the project is now back on its original timeline after having been moved forward to 2011 several months ago.

"Because of the pace of change, we decided to go back to the original schedule," Callahan told a Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon crowd Tuesday at the Timbers. E&E Discount Beer Warehouse sponsored the event.

When it is fully staffed by September 2012, the CPAC will generate about $35 million in salary for the local economy. Jobs will be advertised nationally on the federal government's Web site. Recruitment is expected to begin in April or May 2011.

Lebanon's CPAC will be one of seven across the VA system; each VA hospital has been doing its own billing. The Lebanon CPAC will handle billing in the VA's North East corridor, which is the largest in the nation, including 32 hospitals and 143 outpatient clinics.

Renovation and site-access designs have been completed and are under review by PennDOT and South Lebanon Township, home to the medical center, Callahan said.

"We're in the process of changing the roads (on campus)," Callahan said,
noting that additional traffic lights and turning lanes are proposed on roads leading into the VA. "Federal dollars will be able to take care of the needs."

Three factors played a role in Lebanon being selected as the site for the CPAC: quality of the local work force, quality of life in the Lebanon Valley and "our local ability to support and grow a work force," Callahan said.

While hiring will be done nationally and some workers at other VA hospitals could transfer here, Callahan said he expects most of the 450 positions to be filled locally.

Staffing is expected as follows:

# Accounting Department, 10.

# Education and Training Department, 10.

# Utilization Review Department (registered nurses), 10-13.

# Quality Assurance/Compliance Department, 10-15.

# Revenue and Administrative Support (medical reimbursement technicians), 365-385.

# Administration and Secretarial, 20-25.

Medical reimbursement technicians will be paid between $31,000 and $45,000 annually.

In addition, Callahan said, an annual turnover of 10 percent is expected. He expects "significant backfill" of existing jobs at the VA, as some employees move from their current positions into the CPAC.

Externships and internships will be available.

"We'll be having career fairs," Callahan said.

All interviews will likely be conducted at the Lebanon VA, although applications will be centralized at an office in Topeka, Kan.

Veterans will receive preference in hiring; about 30 to 32 percent of the Lebanon VA's work force is veterans.

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