Virtual health care made easier for veterans

Special for the Pahrump Valley Times
The Veterans Administration’s Southern Nevada Health Care System is facilitating veterans’ access to health services virtually in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Due to the precautionary measures of COVID-19 and the concern of our veterans, we are honoring current guidelines for social isolation and estrangement,” said Dr. Maia D. Carter, chief of primary care for VASNHS. “With virtual care, we can take advantage of available technology to ensure that our patients and staff are safe. We want to be able to connect with our veterans, educate them, particularly about COVID-19, and make sure we get what they need during this time period. ”
Virtual care allows veterans to contact their VA health care team through secure messages, or receive home treatment by phone or video.
“This is a time when we can make the most of technology,” said Carter. “When I have patients who are new to virtual care, I work with them in the process. When we connect, I review a veteran’s medical history with them, discuss their concerns, and review studies, test results, and medications to get what they need. Gradually, most veterans become comfortable with technology and many prefer virtual care. ”
One area that has greatly increased their use of virtual care is behavioral health. VASNHS is expanding its options to allow all mental health services to be available virtually.
“If you are in psychotherapy, or have been seeing your mental health provider even for a while, you are ready to do it,” said Tim Jobin, head of behavioral health at VASNHS. “If you have a smartphone, you are ready to start. If you have high speed internet and a laptop, you are ready to start. I would say, in my opinion, 99 percent of people are in a good place to do this. ”
Last year, veterans had more than 20 million virtual engagements with the VA. With growing concern regarding illnesses like COVID-19, VASNHS is encouraging more veterans to take advantage of virtual care. Options include Telehealth at telehealth.va.gov, MyHealtheVet Secure Messaging at myhealth.va.gov, and home care via VA Video Connect at mobile.va.gov.
VASNHS is also encouraging veterans who have not accessed VA care to virtually enroll at www.va.gov or call the Health Eligibility Center at 877-222-8387. If a veteran is currently enrolled in another VA location and would like to transfer to the VA Southern Nevada Health System, call the enrollment office at 702-791-9071. Due to COVID-19, in-person visits are being limited.
Finally, to avoid confusion regarding cancellations of upcoming face-to-face appointments, VASNHS is discontinuing phone calls and postcards with automatic appointment reminder. VASNHS staff is reaching out to veterans to discuss the options available for their scheduled appointments.
To verify future scheduled appointments or cancel an appointment, veterans can call the VASNHS automated phone system at 702-791-9000, press 2, then 1.
For general VA-related questions related to COVID-19, veterans should visit: https://www.va.gov/coronavirus-veteran-frequency-asked-questions/.

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