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Bay Pines VA Veteran Patient Orientation

We welcome you to our Veteran Patient Orientation for the Bay Pines VA Health Care System. We hope it will be informative to you as you navigate our health care services. On behalf of the VA, we thank you for your service, and will do everything within our ability to serve you as well as you have served our Nation. Thank you for entrusting us with your health care needs.

Bay Pines VA Veteran Patient Orientation Virtual Class

Welcome to Bay VA Pines Health Care System's Veteran Patient Orientation. This orientation will cover Bay Pines VA's mission and values, VA services provided, Care in the Community, the MISSION Act, and more. This event takes place on the first Thursday of every month from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. It can be accessed by clicking here

About Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System is one of the leading healthcare systems serving Veterans in the Sunshine Health Care Network. We provide services at nine locations in Southwest Florida. Our facilities include our C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, which is located on our main campus in Bay Pines, and eight VA Clinics that are in the following areas.

Northern Clinics Southern Clinics Bradenton Lee County Health Care Center in Cape Coral North Pinellas Naples Sarasota Port Charlotte St. Petersburg Sebring


Our mission is to honor America’s Veterans by providing exceptional services that improve their health and well being. The Bay Pines VA is committed to providing our patients with the highest quality of care in an environment that is safe. We do this by focusing on continuous process improvement and by supporting a culture of safety.


Our vision is to continue being the benchmark of excellence and value in health care by providing exemplary services that are both patient-centered and evidence based. 

This care will be delivered by engaged, collaborative teams in an integrated environment that supports learning, discovery and continuous improvement. It will emphasize prevention, health of the population, and contribute to the Nation's well-being through education, research and service in national emergencies.







Click here for information about the members of Bay Pines VA's Executive Leadership Team.

Enrollment and Eligibility  

Veterans who enlisted in the Armed Forces after September 7, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, are not eligible for VHA benefits unless they completed:

  • 24 continuous months of active service
  • Reservist and National Guard - completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty

Reserves or National Guard members with active duty for training purposes only do not meet basic eligibility requirements.

Enrollment Priority Groups

Priority Group One

  • Service-connected 50% or more disability rating
  • Unemployable due to Service Connection

Priority Group Two

Service-connected 30% or 40%

Priority Group Three

  • Service-connected 10 - 20%
  • Purple Heart Recipient 
  • Prisoner of War
  • Veterans discharged due to disability incurred in service
  • Veterans in a vocational rehabilitation program

Priority Group Four

Veterans receiving Aid and Attendance or Housebound VA pension benefits, or determined to be catastrophically disabled

Priority Group Five

  • Non-service-connected and 0% service-connected non-compensable Veterans with an income below threshold, or receiving VA pension and/or eligible for Medicaid benefits

Priority Group Six

  • Veterans who served in combat in a war after the Gulf War or during a period of hostility after November 11, 1998 for five years following discharge or release from the military
  • Veterans with 0% service-connected conditions, but receiving VA compensation
  • Veterans seeking care only for:
  1. Disorders relating to Ionizing Radiation and Project 112/SHAD
  2. Agent Orange Exposure during service in Vietnam
  3. Conditions related to exposure to Environmental Contaminants during service in the Persian Gulf
  4. Conditions related to participation in Project 112/SHAD

Priority Group Seven

Veterans with gross household income below the geographically adjusted income limits for their resident location and who agree to pay copays

Priority Group Eight

Veterans with gross household income above the VA and the geographically adjusted income limit for their resident location, and who agree to pay copays

Additional Groups That Are Eligible for Enrollment

Noncompensable 0% service connected and:

  • Subpriority a: Enrolled as of January 16, 2003 and who have remained enrolled since that date and/or placed in this sub priority due to changed eligibility status
  • Subpriority b: Enrolled on or after June 15, 2009 whose income exceeds the current VA or geographic income limits by 10% or less

2023 Medication Copayment Rates

Some Veterans don’t have to pay copays (they’re “exempt”) due to their disability rating, income level, or special eligibility factors. Click the link below to learn more. 

2023 VA Copayment Rates

Services Provided

Now that you are enrolled in VA health care, you will be assigned a primary care health care team, called a Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT).

Your PACT provider will provide most of your VA outpatient care appointments and coordinate referrals within the medical center.

Each PACT team consists of:

  • Primary Care Provider (PCP)
  • RN Care Manager
  • LPN
  • Medical Support Assistant (MSA)
  • PACT extended team members-pharmacists, social workers, psychologists, dieticians, home based care, and others

There are many other supportive PACT members which include social workers, dietitians, psychologists, pharmacists, home based care staff and many others. Our goal is to provide you with timely, friendly and comprehensive service within the primary care setting.

Your primary care team can coordinate all the services you receive such as:

  • Labs and blood work
  • Mental health care
  • Psychologists
  • Radiology
  • Social services
  • Specialty care
  • Whole health
  • Women's health care

How to Schedule an Appointment  

  • Bay Pines VA’s main campus, or the Bradenton, North Pinellas, Sarasota or St. Petersburg VA Clinics
    Dial and follow the prompts
  • Lee County Healthcare Center, or the Naples, Port Charlotte or Sebring VA Clinics
    Dial and follow the prompts
  • Enrollment & Eligibility
  • After hours and non emergency concerns
    Dial 1-


VEText is an automated text messaging system that the VA uses to send appointment text reminders to Veterans cellphones. Veterans can confirm or cancel by responding to the text message.

  • VEText automatically enrolls Veterans as long as an active cellphone number is on file
  • Private health information and personally identifiable information will not be included in text reminders
  • VA patients can opt out after receiving their first text message from VEText by replying “STOP”. To restart messaging Veterans can reply “START”
  • Text messaging rates may apply depending on individual cell phone plans

Veterans may also be offered an earlier appointment date/time through the system should an appointment become available. This feature is called Open Slot Management (OSM). OSM automatically offers Veterans with pending appointments an earlier slot when one becomes available. Earlier slots are offered based on criteria the facility selects.

  • Veterans will automatically receive these text messages if they have not opted out of the VEText program
  • Veterans receive a text message which offers them a choice to keep their scheduled appointment or to cancel and reschedule to the earlier appointment slot. If the earlier slot is chosen, VEText will schedule it and cancel the previously scheduled appointment


Patient Check in Tool through our VEText Program

The first step is the “Pre Check in” text message, which will be delivered to your phone through our VEText System. Approximately three days before your appointment, you will receive a reminder and be provided the option to confirm, cancel, or request details. Once you confirm your appointment, you’ll be sent another message with a link that you’ll click on to start the pre check in process.

Step 1: Prior to your appointment VEText Message sent. This is what it looks like once you confirm the appointment

A screen capture of the text message Veterans will receive when they check in for their appointment using the PCI tool

The second step requires you to text the words “check in” to 53079 or to scan a QR code once you arrive to the facility. There are signs at each of our facilities that include information about this option. Using this option will allow you to conveniently check in for your appointment without having to stand in line. If you choose to use this feature, the earliest you will be able to check in for your appointment is 30 minutes prior. Veterans will always have the option to check in with a clerk once they arrive to the facility.

Step 2: On the day of your appointment text "check in" to 53079 or scan the QR code to check into your appointment

A screen capture of the QR code Veterans can scan, or number they can call, to check in for their appointment using the PCI tool

Beneficiary Travel Eligibility

The Beneficiary Travel program provides eligible Veterans and other beneficiaries mileage reimbursement, common carrier (plane, train, bus, taxi, light rail, etc.), or when medically indicated, "special mode" (ambulance, wheelchair van) transport for travel to and from VA health care, or VA-authorized, non-VA health care for which the Veteran is eligible.

Beneficiary Travel Benefits
A Veteran may be eligible for Beneficiary travel services if the following criteria are met:

You Qualify for Mileage Reimbursement if You Qualify for Special Mode Transportation (ambulance, wheelchair van, etc.) if You have a service-connected (SC) rating of 30% or more, or you are traveling for treatment of a SC condition or, you receive a VA pension, or your income does not exceed the maximum annual VA pension rate, or you are traveling for a scheduled compensation or pension appointment You meet one of the eligibility criteria in the left column, and your medical condition requires an ambulance, or a specially equipped van as determined by a VA clinician, and the travel is pre-authorized (authorization is not required for emergencies if a delay would be hazardous to life of health).

Beneficiary Travel Self Serve System (BTSSS)

At Bay Pines VA, there are a few methods that Veterans can use to apply for travel claim benefits:

  1. BTSSS: This is the best option and a quicker turnaround time to receive your reimbursement. With BTSSS you are also able to update your demographics and financial institution in one convenient location. To submit through the portal, you may use the following websites

    Submit claims on BTSSS
    View a recording of how to submit on BTSSS
  2. Complete the VA Form 10-3542 and submit to your local Beneficiary Travel Office
  3. Mail your VA Form 10-3542 to 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. Bay Pines, FL 33744 Attn: Travel.

Please keep in mind it may take longer to receive your reimbursement based on the time it takes for the Post Office to deliver your form to the Travel Department.

Veteran Self-Service Resources

Veterans have access to many self-service options that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click here to learn more.

Programs Offered

Telehealth/Connected Care

We use the latest in secure digital technology to set up remote visits with our health care providers. We offer video conferencing, home telehealth services, and store and forward telehealth which lets you securely send your health information to experts in VA facilities without the need of coming into the clinic to address your issue. We offer our Veterans telehealth visits with providers in the following disciplines:

  • Mental health
  • Optometry
  • Dermatology
  • Audiology
  • Primary care
  • Specialty Care

For more information, click here. For 24/7 Telehealth support, call the Office of Connected Care's help desk at 1-.

Women Veterans Health Care

Our women’s health program offers complete health care for women Veterans of all ages. We offer primary care providers who specialize in women’s health, gynecology, maternity care, childbirth educational classes, postpartum support, ultrasounds and mammograms, mental health care and counseling, and lifestyle wellness services.

For more information, reach out to our Women Veteran Program Manager:
Donna Sherman, LCSW

Additional Resources:

Social Work

Social work is an integral part of health care. Utilizing this service can help you and your family manage stress related problems due to injury or illness. Additionally, it can help you find VA community resources that are aimed toward meeting your needs. A few examples of these resources include home health services, legal services, transportation, and community living.

Programs that are under Social Work include:

  • Caregiver Support
  • Homeless Veteran care
  • LGBTQ+ Veteran care
  • Minority Veteran care
  • Post 911 Military 2 VA (M2VA) Case management program

Mental Health

The Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences Department offers both inpatient and outpatient services, including telehealth appointments. We provide consultation, evaluation, and treatment for a range of issues impacting emotional well being. Our services include:

  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Services for Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • Treatment for addictive disorders, including residential rehabilitation treatment programs
  • Transition and care management for Veterans who recently left active duty

Veterans Crisis Line and Suicide Prevention

If you are a Veteran in crisis, or are concerned about one, you can call the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Veterans can dial 988 and press 1 to be connected to confidential crisis support.

This change makes it easier for Veterans to access the support they need in times of crisis however, they will always be able to call 1- (the previous VCL number) and press 1 to reach crisis support too.

If you need help during normal business hours, please call or .

Suicide Prevention: A Guide for Military and Veteran Families

Whole Health

Whole health is a group of services focused on helping you take control of your health and well being. It goes beyond your illness and disabilities to help you create the life you want. It focuses on what is important to you. Remember, you are an active member of your health team. Whole Health starts with you!

For more information on Whole Health Programs offered at Bay Pines VA, please call .

What You Can Do to Aid in Your Care

When seeing your PACT provider, share accurate and complete information about:

  • Your health problems and concerns
  • Past illnesses
  • Hospitalizations
  • Your medicines, including over the counter and herbal
  • Other matters related to your health

Referrals to Specialty Care

Below is an overview of consultation timelines:

  • Your PACT provider will place a consult for one of our specialty clinics then your consult will be processed in one to two days
  • Medical Support Assistants will attempt scheduling with a call and a letter, keeping the consult open for 14 days
  • Once the Veteran is contacted, a consult is scheduled with a VA Medical specialty provider or, if eligible under the MISSION ACT, consult could be forwarded to community care to schedule with an approved community provider

If you have not been scheduled for a consult within 12 days after the consult was placed, contact scheduling by dialing and follow the prompts.


The VA MISSION Act of 2018 (Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks) empowers Veterans to have more choices about where and when they receive their health care.

This act went into effect on June 6, 2019. Under the MISSION Act, Veterans can:

  • Still choose to have the VA provide their care at VA facilities
  • Receive approved care virtually with Telehealth (health care using a telephone or a computer)
  • Work with their VA health care team to see if they meet the criteria to receive their health care through approved non-VA medical providers in the community

Veteran Community Care Eligibility

Due to the VA Mission Act of 2018, Veterans have better access and greater choice in health care, either with VA or at a community provider. In order to be eligible for community care, Veterans must:

  • Receive approval from the VA prior to obtaining care from a community provider in most circumstances
  • Either be enrolled in VA health care or be eligible for VA care
  • Meet any one of the six eligibility criteria

Veterans who are health care eligible will have the option to receive care at a VA medical facility regardless of their eligibility for community care. Eligibility for community care will continue to be dependent upon a Veteran’s individual health care needs or circumstances.


New Prescriptions

  • Urgent/Same Day - provider will send prescription to the pharmacy window at C.W. Bill Young Medical Center (also known as Bay Pines VA’s main campus) or Lee County VA Healthcare Center. No prescriptions are administered at the VA Clinics
  • Non-urgent prescriptions - provider will order the medication to be mailed


  • By My HealtheVet
  • By telephone. Dial and follow the prompts

Important information regarding prescriptions:

  • Your VA prescriber may need to make formulary substitutions when you are transferring your care to us
  • Your VA prescriber may also adjust or change your medications according to your medical needs
  • Some medications, like controlled substances, require specific testing, health record review and medical consent on your part in order to receive them
  • Only prescriptions written by VA providers, approved community care providers, and urgent care center providers can be filled at the VA Pharmacy

Emergency Services

In the event of an emergency, or unexpected admission to the hospital, Veterans do not need prior authorization from a VA facility to receive emergency treatment. If you believe your life or health is in danger, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department* right away.

Additional resource for VA Community Care

VA needs to be notified within 72 hours of admission or emergency room visit. To notify VA, the emergency room provider can report treatment to VA’s Centralized Emergency Care Reporting Portal or you can notify them by calling 1-.

*An emergency department is a facility that is staffed and equipped to provide emergency treatment and does not include facilities that only provide non-emergency care.

Urgent Care

VA offers urgent care services to eligible Veterans at VA medical facilities or at in-network urgent care clinics closer to home. VA’s urgent care benefits are used to treat minor injuries and illnesses that are not life threatening, such as colds, strep throat, sprained muscles, and skin/ear infections.

To access an in-network urgent care provider, you must:

For more information visit Urgent Care - Community Care ( . If you need to call Bay Pines VA after hours for any non-emergency health questions or concerns, call the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center at and select the option to speak to a nurse.

My HealtheVet (MHV)

A VA Online Patient Portal Premium MHV Account provides:

  • 24/7 access to the information you need to understand and manage your VA Care
  • Refills of prescriptions
  • Records of your personal health information
  • The option to securely message your providers

To contact Bay Pines VA's My HealtheVet Coordinator, dial . For more information, visit

Veteran Experience Office (VEO)

In the Veteran Experience Office (VEO), our goal is to improve the experience of all Veterans who participate in our care. We do this in many ways.

  1. Education - We are constantly educating our staff on ways to improve the Veteran experience; from how we check in, how we engage with Veterans, how we follow up and how to set clear expectations.
  2. Improvement Projects - Through our office and committees, we review patient experience data on a monthly basis to assess where we need to focus and make improvements. From there, we try new things and assess their impact.
  3. Problem Solve - Through our skilled patient advocate staff, we assist patients who are struggling with the system or have unmet needs in their healthcare.
  4. My HealtheVet Program - We connect patients to their care team through an online program that allows secure messaging, medication refills and review of case notes.

We constantly review patient satisfaction and patient experience data. We want to know about your experiences so we can continue doing what works and improve what doesn’t. We utilize 2 survey systems:

  1. V Signals - This is an electronic survey sent to a random sampling of patients who have a current email address on file. This is a quick survey, with a maximum of 10 questions.
  2. SHEP - This is a lengthier survey that may come by email or by mail. It has more than 50 questions (all multiple choice). While it is a greater investment of your time, it allows us to compare your experience to the experience of patients in non-VA healthcare facilities.

We make changes based on both, so the more responses we receive, the more likely we are to make the right changes!

How to Resolve Issues With Your Care

Our goal is to provide you with excellent customer service every time. However, we realize we offer care in a complicated system that can be difficult to navigate.

The quickest and easiest way to resolve concerns with your care is to address them in the area where they
occur. If your concern is with Primary Care, talk to your primary care team. If your concern is with Pharmacy, talk to the pharmacy team. The experts are in that area and are best equipped to solve your problem quickly. Feel free to ask for a service level advocate or manager if needed.

The VEO houses skilled staff called Patient Advocates who are experts in collaborating with different areas of the system to resolve complex problems. We hope you’ll never need our services, but should you have issues with your care, or have an issue that involves several services, and cannot resolve it at the point of service, the Veteran Experience Office is here to help overcome any roadblocks to your care.

The VEO office can be reached at Monday Friday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

YOU make a difference in improving the Veteran experience. We encourage you to:

1. Complete any VA survey that comes your way either through email or mail.
2. Sign up for a My HealtheVet premier account.
3. Talk to your team whenever you have a question, concern or frustration so it can be resolved on the spot.