SEATTLE (July 29, 2022)—VA Puget Sound Health Care System is hitting the road again with its Mobile Medical Unit with a dedicated weekly visit to Chehalis Veterans Museum beginning August 3, 2022. Care is by appointment only (no drop-in availability).
“Our Mobile Medical Unit is an extension of outstanding care we provide to approximately 156,000 Veterans in Western Washington,” said VA Puget Sound Health Care System Executive Director Dr. Thomas Bundt. “While COVID-19 related needs kept our Mobile Medical Unit close to home, we are delighted get it back on the road for Veterans most in need of this type of service.”
A MMU Patient Aligned Care Team anchored at its Olympia Clinic will support approximately 300 enrolled Veterans, with eight appointments each Wednesday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“I am thrilled that VA Puget Sound Health Care System’s Mobile Medical Unit is hitting the road and heading to Chehalis,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Veterans in rural Washington deserve the same quality of care as veterans in Seattle—that’s why I teamed up with local leaders and veterans here in Lewis County to ask VA to bring this Mobile Medical Unit down to Southwest Washington. I am so grateful to the Chehalis Veterans Memorial Museum for partnering with VA to host this mobile clinic and I will continue to fight in the Senate for programs like this one and expand care opportunities for veterans in rural Washington state.”
Mobile services include primary care, laboratory services, social work, nutrition, clinical pharmacist consultations, mental health, telehealth specialty services, prosthetics and orthotics. Also, Veterans enrolled in VA Puget Sound’s MMU Program will also have access to their Olympia primary care team and specialty services either in person at the Olympia Clinic or by telephone and video connect.
“Southwest Washington veterans have earned and were promised quality medical care, which is why I advocated for the deployment of this VA Medical Mobile Unit that will now travel to Chehalis to serve veterans in and around Lewis County. I welcome this step by the VA to bring accessible medical care here to Lewis County and remain committed to helping the VA adapt and expand its services until all veterans in our communities – including those who live in remote areas – can access the health care and benefits they deserve,” Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler said.
Enrollment criteria includes Veterans with high medical complexities, challenges with transportation and those who reside outside the 30-minute driving distance to the Olympia Clinic. The MMU care team has been reaching out to Veterans meeting that criteria directly since June, with an invitation to join the MMU team. Eligible Veterans who are interested in enrolling who were not proactively contacted by VA Puget Sound about MMU care should contact their current team at 1 (800) 329-8387 to determine eligibility.
The MMU will be parked at the Chehalis Veteran’s Museum at 100 SW Veterans Way, Chehalis, Washington. This facility offers large MMU parking with plenty of handicap accessible and regular parking. Veterans will have access to the museum with complimentary day passes, USO-style lounge with refreshments, restroom facilities, library and tours.
"The volunteers and staff of the Veterans Memorial Museum are excited about this unique opportunity to partner with VA Puget Sound Health Care System to be a conduit of medical care for the Veterans in our community,” said Veterans Memorial Museum Executive Director Charles "Chip" Duncan.
Shortly after the pandemic hit, VA Puget Sound’s MMU was pulled to support COVID-19 testing at its Seattle campus. Then when it was about to head out again early this year, a sister VA health care system had an outpatient clinic sustained some weather-related damage, so VA Puget Sound deployed its MMU there to support onsite care needs.
Unlike historic deployments of its MMU to Aberdeen, Raymond, Ocean Shores, Shelton and Snohomish, it will exclusively be visiting Chehalis through a sharing agreement with the museum.
VA Puget Sound Health Care System announced August 27, 2021, it would close its contract-operated South Sound/Chehalis Community Based Outpatient Clinic October 31, 2021. The per-patient expenses under the Chehalis contracted clinic were the highest in the nation and VA Puget Sound has a responsibility to both the Veterans it cares for and to taxpayers who fund that care.
As of May 2022, of the approximately 3,400 Veterans who were enrolled to its contracted clinic in Chehalis, more than 3,000 chose to transfer enrollment to one of VA Puget Sound’s other care sites—most to its VA operated Olympia clinic which is within the 30-minute drive time for about 2,000 of them. That leaves about 375 of the 3,400 original Chehalis Clinic enrollees turning to the community network for their care options or choosing to enroll at one of the VA Puget Sound care sites. And to make getting to appointments easier, VA Puget Sound provides transportation services to VA appointments for eligible Veterans living in our service area which includes Olympia. Veterans may access the VA Transportation program through their VA provider or by calling VA Puget Sound’s Travel office at 206-764-2120.
VA Puget Sound provides comprehensive care to approximately 156,000 Veterans across the Pacific Northwest—approximately 120,000 are enrolled with a primary care team at one of its 10 care sites: two main campuses (American Lake and Seattle), six outpatient clinics (Edmonds, Mount Vernon, Olympia, Port Angeles, Puyallup and Silverdale) and two Community Resource & Referral Centers (Georgetown in Seattle and Renton). As the VA’s 4th largest research program, VA Puget Sound has research in virtually every major clinical department, including: TBI and multiple blast exposures; memory improvement and Alzheimer's Disease; PTSD and deployment health; Parkinson’s Disease; diabetes; cancer; substance abuse; lower limb prosthetics; genomics; and Health Services. Additionally, it has seven nationally recognized Centers of Excellence (in areas from limb-loss prevention and prosthetic engineering to primary care education and substance abuse treatment). For more information visit www.va.gov/puget-sound-health-care or call 800-329-8387. For Veterans in Crisis, please use the Veterans Crisis line at 800-273-8255 (press 1).
Veterans who have not explored health care eligibility are encouraged to find out by visiting www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/ or by calling 877-222-8387 to learn more.