VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network
Veteran Care Expands in VISN 6
By VISN 6 public affairs
Tuesday, August 30, 2016Did you know that the VA Veterans Integrated Systems Network 6 (VISN 6), which covers North Carolina and Virginia has opened more space this year than in all the VA organization nationwide?
Since 2001, VA has transformed the delivery of care to offer more Veterans greater service than ever before. In VISN 6 alone, the number of Veterans served has doubled over the last 15 years, from 150,000 to more than 377,000. Similar stories abound across the country, which says a lot about our nation’s VA’s recent commitment to Veterans of getting the care that they need, when they need it and Veterans are holding VA to that commitment. In fact, more than 520,000 Veterans have enrolled to receive care in this region.
That is an especially staggering number and accomplishment with almost half of the VISN 6 region being comprised of areas considered “rural and highly rural.” This means that many Veterans in these states don’t live near VA medical centers, which are situated typically in more densely populated areas. In effect, several of the most populated areas in the region already contained VA medical centers in 2001, and the number of medical centers in the VISN still remains the same as it did then, with seven regardless of an updated geographic boundary in 2016.
So, how does the organization continue to see thousands more patients every year without increasing the number of hospitals? By leveraging technology, improving our processes, and opening clinics that treat the more commonly experienced illnesses Veterans contract. Continually, we are caring for more Veterans in less time. Technological advances in health care, many which were developed by VA staff, have helped VA deliver care more quickly, accurately and safely. It has made it possible for many procedures that required multiple day visits to occupy just a couple of hours in a patient’s day. Often, with the use of telehealth, Veteran care no longer requires trips to see a doctor, with telephone or video conference calls which can do the job just as effectively.
The VISN has also worked hard to reach Veterans where they live. In 15 years, more than 35 sites of care have been added to provide Veterans the greatest possible access to care, including three mobile vehicles that can reach remote areas for Veterans in need.
Those facilities are part of a construction program that brought 95 percent of the Veterans in the network’s catchment area to within an hour of VA health care. In other words, more than 700,000 Veterans are currently within an hour’s drive of a VA primary care appointment.
And there are many alternatives to in-person VA care. Non-VA Care in the Community and Veterans Choice programs offer Veterans the opportunity to receive care close to home and as quickly as possible. For Veterans meeting eligibility requirements, their care could be received just around the corner or down the street.
Another ever-increasing option for Veterans is telehealth. VISN 6 staff has championed the provision of telemedicine and the delivery of telehealth services so that VA is second to none in the world in using remote and electronic means to provide treatment, consultation and analysis of Veteran health conditions. In 2015 39,000 Veterans received their care through more than 120,000 telehealth encounters. The method can be used to monitor vital signs, follow up on recovery and rehabilitation, administer mental health consultations and provide diagnostics. Veterans using telehealth receive necessary care with an immediacy that enables them to live their best lives without missing a beat.
Think about it. Since 2011 this VISN has provided 30.4 million appointments and 2.8 million bed days of care, with an average five day wait for a Primary Care appointment. Closing out the calendar year, we expect to complete close to six million appointments, while filling 6.8 million prescriptions. From a patient load as vast and wide as this network, the satisfaction rate throughout the region is an incredible 87 percent, according to an independent analyst.
The VA, to include the VISN 6 facilities, is serving more Veterans today with better care and less time than ever before in our nation’s history, and our service is improving by the day. If you are a Veteran interested receiving care, check out the “Our Medical Centers” section of this website to find out more today.