The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Community Care team has a simple, but complex, goal - to let no one fall through the cracks.
That is why beginning Oct. 1, as the HealthNet contract that supported the Choice Program ends, Charleston VAMC implemented a proactive team of nursing and administrative support to work directly with Veterans and providers to ensure seamless community patient care is provided.
The Community Care Liaisons work closely with community providers on a range of issues from establishing local vendor agreements to how to file claims with VA’s Consolidated Business Office to sending required clinical results and summaries back to the VAMC. They also assist VA clinicians with any questions on community care referrals, or gathering results and information from patient appointments provided in the community.
The first task, according to Community Care Nurse Margaret Rhodes, is maintaining continuity of care for approximately 1,000 Veterans returned to the VAMC by HealthNet. Starting earlier this year, the team planned to absorb that work making sure affected Veterans either returned to the VAMC for their care or coordinating future appointments with community providers. Rhodes explained approximately 80 percent of community providers seeing the affected Veterans already had a provider agreement with the VAMC, so that care continued with no issues. The team is working with the other community practices to establish provider agreements or to transition those patients to another provider.
Moving forward, the liaisons will work with community and VA providers as well as patients to ensure continuity of care and services for each group. Charleston VAMC will also participate in a future phase of the Community Care Network, a national contract provider network that will further support the VAMC’s Community Care program.
“I’m not aware of any other VA medical center having Community Care liaisons,” said Rhodes. “It’s not a standard practice, but we wanted our providers to have access to us if they have questions.”
Charleston VAMC Community Care established designated customer service phone lines. Patients, community providers or VA clinicians can call Community Care customer service at (843) 789-6763. For Health Net questions, they can call (843) 577-5011 ext. 5351.
“Hopefully it will be a big help for them and for us, and most of all for improving continuity of care for Veterans on both sides,” concluded Rhodes.