Intermediate Care Technician - National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
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Intermediate Care Technician

Former medics and corpsmen bring specialized care to older Veterans in VHA’s nationally recognized emergency departments

Throughout the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) health care system, thousands of Veterans benefit from the Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) Program. The majority of ICTs are military-trained medics and corpsmen who deliver health care services to Veterans and serve at 30 VA medical facilities throughout the United States. ICTs often work in emergency departments (EDs) and many clinical settings where they support the clinical team and share camaraderie with fellow Veterans.

The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center’s ED employs many ICTs and recently received Level 1 Geriatric ED Accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians. That means the Cleveland ED joins eight other EDs in the nation in achieving the highest standard of accreditation; the Cleveland ED is the first VA ED to receive it. That recognition is thanks in part to the Geriatric Emergency Room Innovations for Veterans (GERI-VET) program at the Cleveland ED, which looks at the physical, psychological, and social factors that impact older Veterans’ health. The Cleveland GERI-VET team, supported by ICTs trained in geriatric emergency care, works to ensure that measures are in place to keep Veterans healthy after they leave the ED.

ICTs in the Cleveland ED have been trained to screen patients for common geriatric issues such as falls, elder abuse, delirium, and caregiver burden. ICTs, in conjunction with ED social workers, also help Veterans, their families, and caregivers get set up with in-home and community resources when they leave the ED. Older Veterans often present to EDs with conditions worsened by age and frailty, such as dementia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and physical ailments from military service that become aggravated over the years.

ICTs are in a unique position to offer care to older Veterans because ICTs are Veterans themselves. When ICTs introduce themselves as former medics or corpsmen, Veteran patients realize that they have a shared understanding and experience. That connection helps ICTs establish trust and learn more about their patients.

Dr. Jill Huded, acute care geriatrician at the Cleveland VA, has seen the many ways ICTs are able to lend specialized care to older Veterans.

“I had taken care of a Veteran during his five-day hospitalization. He came back to the ED, and within five minutes, the ICT was able to get so much more information from the Veteran,” she said.

Within the Cleveland ED, GERI-VET program staff members have trained 12 ICTs and other interdisciplinary staff in specialized care for older Veterans. Now those ICTs are training others and influencing the way people think about friendly emergency care for older Veterans. The program has worked with 14 VA medical centers throughout the nation to train employees on this specialized program and will be working with five more VA medical centers in the near future.

Jennifer Blatnik is an ICT and a geriatric ED care coordinator. She explained that working as an ICT in an ED is a different experience, but a special one.

“You go from active duty, where the people you’re caring for are closer to your age. Then you go into geriatrics, and you’re serving older Veterans that you have immense respect for,” Ms. Blatnik said. “It’s very humbling.”

For more information on the ICT program, visit
https://www.vacareers.va.gov/Careers/IntermediateCare/.

External Link Disclaimer: This page contains links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

Posted September 25, 2019