History was made on June 27th as a momentous public-private partnership was announced and commemorated through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
This significant event marked a collaborative effort between the VA and its academic affiliate, UPHS to enhance the nation's commitment to providing top-quality, state-of-the-art healthcare facilities for military Veterans.
The ceremony was officiated by RADM Karen Flaherty-Oxler, USN (RET), the first female medical center director of the Philadelphia VA Healthcare System. In attendance was the Undersecretary for Veterans Health Administration, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, M.D., University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill, VHA VISN 4 Network Director Tim Liezert, UPHS Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mahoney, Jennifer Harkins, Acting Medical Center Director, Coatesville Medical Center, U.S. Representative Dwight Evans (PA-3rd District), U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6th District), former U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy (PA-8th District), and former VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin.
The MOU signed during the ceremony was possible under section 704 of the historic 2022 Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act which allows for the VA to partner with its academic affiliates and other entities to acquire space for the purpose of providing health care resources to Veterans, including infrastructure improvement projects in order to address the anticipated growth in newly eligible Veterans seeking healthcare services under the provisions of the PACT Act. This MOU aims to optimize and modernize healthcare delivery services for Veterans. This partnership not only aligns with the VA's commitment to delivering high-quality care to Veterans, but also reflects UPHS’ mission to make a positive impact in the communities they serve.
Two MOUs were signed on this day. One to benefit the Philadelphia VA Healthcare System and the other to benefit the Coatesville VA Healthcare System. The Philadelphia VA Healthcare System already partners with UPHS in training over 500 medical residents, 200 medical specialty residents and in various research endeavors that benefit both Veterans and the general public through new medical discoveries and treatment protocols. The MOU with the Coatesville VA Medical Center VA Healthcare System is its first foray partnership with UPHS. Overall, this collaboration between the VA’s Veterans Health Administration, which is responsible for Veterans' healthcare, and a renowned academic institution in UPHS, signifies the recognition of the mutual benefits that can be derived from these MOUs. As we look forward to the possibilities that this MOU offers the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, our current facility will remain in place and fully operational. The MOU provides for the ability to expand our footprint in Philadelphia under the PACT Act.
Due to the new authorities granted to the VA through the PACT Act, it anticipates additional partnerships with other VAMCs across the country and their academic affiliates.