SHOW LOW – Two regulations have just been finalized as part the new Veterans Community Care Program under the Mission Act of 2018, according to a June 5 press release from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The regulations will actually add important healthcare benefits for veterans and are expected to be particularly helpful to veterans living in rural areas.

The Independent was invited to meet with Phoenix VA Health Care System Associate Director, Michael Welsh last Thursday to help communicate the new benefits to the White Mountain community.

The new Community Care Program under the 2018 Mission Act has updated eligibility criteria now in effect which includes an urgent care benefit for veterans that can’t wait for an appointment with their provider.

“A key component of the MISSION Act is a new urgent care benefit that provides eligible Veterans with greater choice and access to timely, high-quality care,” according to the press release. “With urgent care, Veterans have a new option for care for the treatment of minor injuries and illnesses, such as colds, sore throats and minor skin infections. The benefit is offered in addition to the opportunity to receive care from a VA provider, as VA also offers same-day services.”

Other benefits that have been added or enhanced include expanded tele-health services, extra support in areas with limited services, improved community care program, an expanded caregivers program and secure messaging.

“The Mission Act opens up the door for veterans to get care,” says Welsh. “The urgent care benefit will allow veterans to be seen on weekends, after hours and when they can’t wait for an appointment with their provider.”

There are specific priority groups assigned to every veteran for the urgent care benefit explained Welsh, so it’s important for them to check with their local VA office or call 602-277-5551 to find their specific eligibility.

“We want to provide exceptional health care,” adds Welsh. “Our goal is to keep people out of the hospital by being proactive and providing them with a variety of ways to access their healthcare providers.”

“We are taking an aggressive approach to getting out in the community,” assures Welsh. “StatClinix Urgent Care in Lakeside and Show Low are the two urgent care facilities that accept the benefit plan here. We want people to have this information so they don’t pay a co-pay when they don’t have to.”

The Show Low/Globe VA Clinic Medical Administrative Officer, Pauline DeWenter and Chief Operating Officer and Nurse Manager Cynthia Schihl also shared information with the Independent about the roll-out of the new benefit options.

“We are very excited about tele-health and the urgent care benefit,” says Schihl. “We serve 2,500 veterans annually in the Show Low office and that number often increases by 50 percent during the summer months.”

Telemedicine/tele-health is described by the VA as “an important vehicle that can help address barriers preventing rural and Veteran populations from accessing quality care.”

During the interview with Welsh, Schihl and DeWenter demonstrated how any veteran can use the VA Health Video Connect application which allows a patient to see their provider for an appointment on their phone or any mobile device.

The video connect is an app where the patient connects with the provider for an appointment via smart phone, computer/pc, laptop, or tablet. “There’s no co-pays to use the service. The patient sees their provider on the screen and their provider sees the patient as well,” explains Schihl.

“We are also very active in our partnership with Summit Healthcare and the community,” says DeWenter. “If someone is admitted, for example, we continually follow-up to make sure they are not readmitted. We also have meetings with them via tele-health while they are still in the hospital so that everyone is in the loop.”

Veterans can also visit www.myhealth.va.gov, also known as

“My Healthe Vet” which is the VA’s online personal health record is a “free tool to help veterans take charge of their health care,” according to the site. Veterans have access to prescriptions, appointments scheduling, medical records and secure messaging with their doctors.

Resources

To reach your local VA Clinic, or for more information on any of these programs, call 602-277-5551.

Also visit www.myhealth.va.gov to access any of these services or to send a secure email to your community-based outreach team (provider, RN, LPN and clerk).

There is also a helpline for this service which can be reached at 1-877-327-0022 or 1-800-877-8339.

For specifics about the Mission Act of 2018, visit the website at www.missionact.va.gov.

Most importantly, if you are a veteran and need immediate assistance, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1–800-273-8255 and press 1.

Reach the reporter at lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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