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Photo of Army Veteran, Mr. Robert Hofmann, one of our first cataract surgery patients.
Army Veteran, Mr. Robert Hofmann, one of our first cataract surgery patients. Photo by: Christopher Lemke

On Wednesday, September 25, 2019, the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center added cataract surgery to the growing list of services it offers local Veterans.

This new service is the first time the Altoona VA has stood up a fully sterile operating room in more than a decade.
Four Veterans signed up to be the first to undergo the procedure, all with successful outcomes.

One of the patients is Army Veteran, Mr. Robert Hofmann, who served in Korea from 1964-1967. As a Rifleman in Korea, Hofmann was trained as a Forward Observer. “At the time, I don’t think I fully understood the life expectancy of a Forward Observer,” said Hofmann.
Considered one of the newer patients with the VA, Hofmann chose not to use VA care for more than 50 years. “I don’t know why I waited that long, because this has been the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Hofmann.

Despite receiving care through multiple private health care institutions, Hoffman explains that nothing compares to the care he receives through the VA. Due to that level of service, Hofmann says he receives all his healthcare needs through the VA.
“Everyone has been fantastic, I can’t say enough. Everywhere else, you are lucky if you get 15 minutes with your doctor. I can speak with my doctor for much longer,” said Hofmann.

Dr. Daniel Russell, Chief of Optometry attributes the services, resources, and level of care the facility provides to our Veterans can be directly attributed to leadership and the dedicated staff.
“Patients come in and they do not necessarily see the work put in by the people who have supported us through this expansion,” said Russell.

Russell explains that without these services being offered locally, Veterans would face long wait times in the community or must drive to a larger city like Pittsburgh.
Over the last two years, the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center has added more than 20 new services and specialties within the main facility and five surrounding community-based outpatient-clinics. During this growth, patient satisfaction is holding firm in the 90 percentile. Additionally, the VA is a regional leader in services like telehealth, urology, mental health, and medical imaging.

For more information on how to enroll in VA, please call 814-943-8164 and speak with one of the enrollment specialists today.

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