Governor Northam announces veterans telehealth partnership in Southside

Governor Northam Thursday announced veterans in Southside will gain easy access to quality healthcare through a pilot telehealth service located in Martinsville.

The partnership between the Virginia Department of Health and the Salem Veterans Affairs Health Care System will establish a new point of access at the Martinsville Health Department for telehealth services provided by the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. For the first time, a local Virginia health district will provide access to telehealth services provided by the U.S. Veterans Health Administration.

The new site at the Martinsville Health Department uses a model of “telehealth-in-a-box” that the Salem Veterans Affairs Health Care System has utilized at several sites in their region. A registered nurse, hired by the Veterans Health Administration, will conduct quality health assessments prior to and during the exam for the physician connected remotely to the veteran patient.

The two-year pilot partnership will enable telehealth appointments between an eligible veteran and their Veterans Health Administration Patient Aligned Care Team provider or Veterans Health Administration specialist, without the veteran having to travel significant distances or have difficulty connecting to the internet. Gov. Northam said:

“As a veteran and a physician, I know the VA provides needed care to veterans. But sometimes it can be challenging for veterans in some parts of the Commonwealth to access that care. That’s why we’re excited to announce this telehealth opportunity for veterans in Southsidemaking it easier for Southside veterans to receive critical health care closer to home.”

Telehealth services provided by the Veterans Health Administration have seen a significant increase in usage and requests, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2018-2020, there was a 200 percent increase in the number of appointments made by veteran patients enrolled in Veterans Health Administration healthcare. Enhanced points of access, like this one in Martinsville, will reduce barriers to those veterans who do not have the means to connect with their provider remotely. Dr. Daniel Carey, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, said:

“Telehealth is a means toward overcoming substantial transportation barriers for veterans who may live a significant distance from their Veterans Health Administration provider. This partnership further reduces socio-economic barriers that may exist and prevent a veteran from accessing telehealth in their homes and communities.”

Kathleen Jabs, acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, said:

“We are excited about the partnership between the Commonwealth and the Veterans Administration and look forward to seeing this pilot site reduce barriers for Southside veterans. This telehealth partnership will serve veterans and measure its success in order to replicate it in other areas of the Commonwealth.”

Salem Veterans Affairs Health Care System Executive Director Rebecca Stackhouse said:

“We’ve been providing mobile telehealth at the Salem Veterans Affairs Health Care System since January 2020. This new agreement will allow us to continue our healthcare outreach to veterans across the 26 counties of Southwest Virginia we serve, and make it more convenient for our nation’s heroes to access quality medical care.”

Veterans who would like to learn more about this opportunity and schedule telehealth appointments at this clinic should speak with their Veterans Health Administration primary care Patient Aligned Care Team provider and must be enrolled in Veterans Health Administration healthcare. Additional services, such as mental health, may also be offered at this clinic.  Please reach out to the mobile telehealth registered nurse, Jeanine Bomber or Facility Telehealth Coordinator, Lindsay Gill to find out what services are offered or to learn more about the program: 540-855-5090.

This press release was provided by the Office of Gov. Ralph Northam