Telehealth partnership for veterans coming to Southside VA

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Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 1:49 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Veterans in Virginia’s Southside will have another option when it comes to healthcare access, thanks to a new telethealth partnership.

The pilot service will be at the Martinsville Health Department and is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Health and the Salem Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

The Martinsville site will use a “telehealth-in-a-box” mode, which the Salem VA system has used at several sites in its region. A registered nurse, hired by the Veterans Health Administration, will conduct health assessments prior to and during the exam for the physician connected remotely to the patient.

The two-year pilot partnership will offer telehealth appointments between an eligible veteran and their Veterans Health Administration Patient Aligned Care Team provider or VHA specialist, without the veteran having to travel significant distances or deal with difficulty connecting to the internet.

“As a veteran and a physician, I know the VA provides needed care to veterans. But sometimes it can be challenging for veterans in some parts of the Commonwealth to access that care,” said Governor Northam. “That’s why we’re excited to announce this telehealth opportunity for veterans in Southsidemaking it easier for Southside veterans to receive critical health care closer to home.”

Telehealth services provided by the VHA have seen a significant increase, even before the COVID-10 pandemic. There was a 200% increase in the number of appointments made by veteran patients enrolled in VHA healthcare between 2018 and 2020. Enhanced point of access, like the new site in Martinsville, will reduce barriers for veterans who do not have the means to connect with their provider remotely.

“Telehealth is a means toward overcoming substantial transportation barriers for veterans who may live a significant distance from their Veterans Health Administration provider,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “This partnership further reduces socio-economic barriers that may exist and prevent a veteran from accessing telehealth in their homes and communities.”

“We’ve been providing mobile telehealth at the Salem Veterans Affairs Health Care System since January 2020,” said Salem Veterans Affairs Health Care System Executive Director Rebecca Stackhouse. “This new agreement will allow us to continue our healthcare outreach to veterans across the 26 counties of Southwest Virginia we serve, and make it more convenient for our nation’s heroes to access quality medical care.”

Interested veterans should speak with their VHA primary care Patient Aligned Care Team provider and must be enrolled in VHA healthcare. Additional services, such as mental health care, may also be offered. Contact the mobile telehealth registered nurse, Jeanine Bomber or facility telehealth coordinator Lindsay Gill at 540-855-5090 to find out more.

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