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Salisbury VA outlines challenges and changes

Salisbury VA  Health Care System

SALISBURY – Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin recently outlined the state of the VA, highlighting the activity and direction of the agency since his appointment in February.

On Tuesday,  Salisbury VA  Health Care System interim Director Subbarao Pemmaraju outlined some of the challenges identified by Salisbury VA and what is being done to address them.

To provide better access to care, the Salisbury hospital opened two health care centers in Charlotte and Kernersville in 2016. They continue to expand specialty clinics that provide medical care for veterans closer to their homes.

The specialty clinics pulmonary, cardiology, gastroenterology, nephrology, rheumatology, dermatology, dental, rehab, plastic surgery, and general surgery.

Specialty clinics at Kernersville include cardiac cath lab andinfectious disease, endoscopy and ambulatory operating rooms opening soon.

Specialty clinics at Charlotte include bronchoscopy, endoscopy and ambulatory operating rooms opening soon.

The Salisbury VA Health Care System provides medical care for more than 92,000 veterans. One of the improvements for access is same-day services for primary care and mental health.

Same-day service means that a veteran who has an immediate need will have that need met the same day, whether through a same-day appointment, a phone consultation, telehealth, prescription refills or secure email messaging.

To be more transparent, wait time data for clinical appointments to include Salisbury facilities is posted at http://www.accesstocare.va.gov. If a veteran cannot receive care within 30 days, he or she is offered the chance to see an outside provider under contract with the VA through the Veterans Choice program.

The Choice program has increased access to care for thousands of veterans. Today, the VA has 196 community providers in the network, and that number continues to grow.

Parking is an issue at the Salisbury facility that will be resolved soon with the opening of a parking garage with expected completion in early fall. The garage will add 360 parking spaces. Other expansion projects include a clinical lab and plans to renovate and expand the emergency department and operating rooms.

According to federal figures, 20 veterans take their lives daily across the nation, while only six of those 20 had sought VA services. One of Shulkin’s new goals is “zero veteran suicides.”

Salisbury VA is reaching out to promote awareness of the help available to prevent suicide. One tool is the Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health-Veterans Enhanced Treatment (Reach-Vet) program.

The Reach-Vet program identifies veterans who may be facing the highest risk of suicide. Using this data, health care providers can intervene with services such as missed-appointment follow-ups and individualized care. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day.

The number to the Veterans Crisis Hotline is 800-273-8255, then press 1. During this fiscal year, Salisbury has received and followed up on more than 995 crisis line calls.

Salisbury VA is also a member of the MyVA Communities/Community Veterans Engagement Board, which creates a network of support and connects resources across local communities.

“Access to quality VA health care for veterans is our top priority,” said Pemmaraju. “I tell my staff that good is not good enough — that at Salisbury VA, we are striving for excellence. But we cannot do it alone. We need to work together as a team. Our veterans deserve nothing less than the best heath care available.”

For more information about VA services, visit www.explore.va.gov or like the hospital on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VASalisbury.

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