VHA Community Partnership Challenge - National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
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VHA Community Partnership Challenge

Community Partnership Spotlight: Hampton VA partnership offers diverse resources across the social determinants of health to local Veterans

This is the fifth in a series of articles about how various VA and VHA offices, initiatives, and programs support social determinants of health—the theme of the 2020 VHA Community Partnership Challenge. This article features a 2020 submission from the Hampton VA Medical Center in Hampton, Virginia about how a partnership with a nearby non-profit organization offers a wide assortment of resources to local Veterans.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides comprehensive health services to America’s Veterans, and VHA knows on its own it can’t provide every service to every Veteran. Partnerships between VHA and nongovernmental organizations result in more options and increased resources for Veterans.

The VHA Community Partnership Challenge (CPC) is an annual contest that recognizes local and national partnerships serving Veterans. By spreading the word about successful partnerships and encouraging their replication across VHA, the CPC is inspiring more VHA staff members to form partnerships of their own, further expanding the delivery of services.

The theme of the 2020 VHA CPC is the social determinants of health (SDOH). SDOH are conditions in the environments in which people live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Examples of SDOH are access to transportation, food security, and employment.

Winners from the 2020 CPC were recently announced, but VHA is highlighting other outstanding partnership submissions from across the country.

Hampton VA Medical Center partnership positively impacts health and quality of life for local Veterans

The partnership between the Hampton VA Medical Center (HAMVAMC) and the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic Veterans Network (CVN) offers a variety of programs that are critical in addressing gaps in the allowable care that can be provided to local Veterans by HAMVAMC. This partnership provides a wide array of services across many SDOH for Veterans that help improve access to education, employment, food security, housing, spiritual support, transportation, and child or family support:

  • Education and Employment: Veterans have access to job training, financial counseling, skill building, employment assistance programing, and Microsoft Office training.
  • Food Security: An on-site food pantry, which is stocked by several community organizations, provides nutritious meals to Veterans and their families.
  • Housing: Veterans gain access to streamlined list of community partners who are specifically designed to address housing issues and often achieve same-day results.
  • Spiritual support: Holistic healing support via aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, and art therapy is offered to Veterans.
  • Transportation: Veterans can acquire free rideshare service transportation through a Lyft Business account.
  • Child and Family Support: Free on-site childcare services are offered to Veterans and their families during health care appointments.

After the partnership between HAMVAMC and CVN was formed in summer 2018, more than 500 Veterans were served in the first fiscal year. At the time of submission in early FY20, 68 Veterans were referred to CVN services by HAMVAMC, and Veteran referrals to HAMVAMC by CVN resulted in more than 1,000 health care encounters.    

“I am extremely proud of the partnership that has been forged with the Cohen Clinic as it represents innovative and creatives ways to support our Veterans and their families in the communities where they live, work, and play,” said Susan Lawver, suicide prevention program coordinator at HAMVAMC. “As we enhance our engagement with our service partners, better and more comprehensive treatment planning occurs that addresses the social determinants of health that many of our Veterans face.  There is no better representation of the public health model that has been shown to more effectively support veterans who are at increased risk of negative outcomes, including increased risk for suicidal thinking and behaviors.  This partnership illustrates clearly that we are all in the mission of saving lives and providing word class service together.”

CVN is a national nonprofit organization consisting of 14 operating clinics and is dedicated to providing low to no-cost behavioral health care to post-9/11 Veterans and their families and to active duty military families. There are currently more than 1,000 employees within the CVN and many more within the local operating sponsor organizations.

“The partnership between HAMVAMC and CVN is a great example of how VHA partnerships can help improve access to a wide range of SDOH,” said Dr. Tracy Weistreich, nurse executive for VHA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE). “Replicating this partnerships in other communities across the country to assist Veterans is possible given the extensive presence of VA medical centers and the reach of CVN.”

OCE hosts the CPC each year to highlight outstanding community-level partnerships, and to encourage others to create similar partnerships to benefit Veterans. OCE’s mission is to serve as a trusted resource and a catalyst for the growth of effective partnerships at the national, state, and community level and as a facilitator and access point for public and private entities interested in partnering with VHA to benefit Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors.

For more information on OCE’s work or to contact OCE for partnership opportunities, please visit: https://www.va.gov/healthpartnerships/.

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Posted September 10, 2020