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Quality of Care

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What's New at Your VA?

VA is constantly working to provide more excellent service and care for Veterans. This includes new programs and initiatives, advanced training, and renovations and improvements to enhance health care facilities. Each VA project is an opportunity to improve the delivery of services to America's heroes. Featured below are some of the exciting improvements in quality of care taking place around the country:  Click on the region below to find out what's new in that area.

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Javier Salgado, RN, and Deborah Harris-Cobbinah, RN, demonstrating in-home messaging device

Javier Salgado, RN, and Deborah Harris-Cobbinah, RN, demonstrating in-home messaging device

Prevention VIA Virtual Tech

When depression surfaces, increasing numbers of Veterans are linking to VA for help through a technology they keep right at hand, at home hooked up through their phone line or wireless technology apparatus.  This in-home messaging device asks straightforward questions, like “Are you thinking of harming yourself, or someone else?.”  Simple responses typed into this device then are transmitted through the phone lines to be assessed and responded to by trained telehealth staff.

Program Coordinator Deborah-Harris-Cobbinah, RN,  and VISN 3 Javier Salgado, RN, agree that it is important for patient to know this virtual technology is not for 911.   When  emergency intervention is not needed,  virtual technology provides a convenient way to receive ongoing assessment and support from the convenience of a Veteran’s  home.    However, if the responses to questions indicate suicide risk, emergency response is called into action.  To have use of the telehealth device and participate in the assessment  program patients must login and respond to questions seven days a week.  Telehealth staff assess these messages five days a week. Read more...


U.S. Navy Veteran Ed Brown discusses his medication with Clinical Pharmacist Bishoy Ragheb

U.S. Navy Veteran Ed Brown discusses his medication with Clinical Pharmacist Bishoy Ragheb, a diabetes specialist at the Tallahassee VA Outpatient Clinic. The pharmacist is an important member of Mr. Brown's Patient Aligned Care Team.

A Doctor's Office That's All About You

Remember when you couldn’t cash a check after 4 p.m.?  Bankers listened to their customers' need for more convenient hours and accessible services. Likewise, today, personalized, patient-focused health care services are what it’s all about in doctor’s offices and health care settings across the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In this model called PACT, which stands for Patient Aligned Care Team, patients like U.S. Army Veteran Edwin “Ed” Brown are getting a primary care team that is not only skilled at managing chronic diseases, but also helps Veterans improve their physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing - over their lifetime.

In PACT, each patient is assigned to a team comprised of a Primary Care Manager (PCM), a Registered Nurse care manager and other nursing and administrative professionals.  Clinical pharmacists, social workers, nutritionists and mental health staff augment the PACT, providing support. Read more...


Army Veteran Herbert Lang is examined by his Lovell FHCC cardiologist

Army Veteran Herbert Lang (seated, right) is examined by his Lovell FHCC cardiologist Dr. Eric Yeung (on screen) during a follow-up appointment at the McHenry Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

First telecardiology patient seen in McHenry

Army Veteran Herbert Lang was happy and relieved his cardiology follow-up appointment at Lovell FHCC’s McHenry, Ill., Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) was uneventful. His cardiologist assured him he was in good shape.

“He’s absolutely the best,” Lang said about his doctor. “I fully trust him.”

The fact that the Huntley, Ill., resident made local history was an added bonus. Lang’s early August appointment in McHenry, with Dr. Eric Yeung in North Chicago, was the FHCC’s very first telecardiology appointment.

Telehealth Clinical Technician Paula Mantas, LPN, rolled in a telehealth cart equipped with a digital stethoscope as well as video-teleconferencing equipment.

Both patient and doctor could see each other and converse, and Yeung not only viewed Lang’s electrocardiogram, but also listened to his patient’s heart and lung sounds in real time. Read more...


Occupational therapist Annemarie Rossi works with Veteran Lonny Ellison

Occupational therapist Annemarie Rossi works with Veteran Lonny Ellison during a cognitive training session at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt

Seeking New Coping Tools for Veterans with TBI

One of the most effective tools to manage a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is a smartphone calendar app, say VA researchers. Considered the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, mTBI can result in memory loss, mood disturbances and other potentially disabling symptoms. For some, the injury can prove life-altering.

“With mild TBI, one of the most common symptoms is problems with prospective memory—remembering to do things,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Twamley, a neuropsychologist with the VA San Diego Healthcare System. “We want people to remember to take their medication and buy cards for their wife’s birthday and do all the important things they need to get back to work and school.” Read more...


Iraq War Veteran Karen Genn participates in a Tai Chi class

Iraq War Veteran Karen Genn participates in a Tai Chi class at the Jack C. Montgomery East Clinic.

Tai Chi Helps Reduce Stress, Increase Flexibility

For centuries, the Chinese have used Tai Chi as a martial art and means of self-defense. Today, people around the world use Tai Chi as a form of exercise to reduce anxiety and stress and to increase flexibility and balance.

Considered an alternative medicine, Tai Chi is often referred to as “moving meditation” and involves slow, deliberate movements, meditation and deep breathing.  Because it puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, Tai chi is considered safe for all ages and fitness levels.

While scientific evidence does not yet support the health benefits of Tai Chi, many believe it aids in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive disorders, skin diseases, depression, cancer and many other illnesses. Read more...