Services: What’s new for western Colorado veterans?
Changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs happen constantly, particularly when it comes to health care. Keep up with these changes online (www.va.gov) in the “Media Room” section.
A NEW NAME
Grand Junction Veterans Health Care System
With the addition of the four satellite clinics in Montrose, Craig, Glenwood Springs and Moab, the Grand Junction VA Medical Center changed its name. As of December 31, 2014, the medical center became known as the Grand Junction Veterans Health Care System.
TWO SATELLITE CLINICS MOVED
The Montrose Community Veterans Clinic moved to new locations. The Montrose Clinic is now located at 154 Colorado Ave. Call 970-249-7791 for more information.
The Moab, Utah Telehealth Clinic is now located at Kanecreek Shopping Center: 702 S. Main St. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 435-719-4144 for more information.
Only primary and certain specialty care clinics are available at these locations. Urgent care is not provided.
What started as an experimental pilot in primary care in 2007 — with the establishment of the Craig Telehealth Clinic, now the Maj. William E. Adams Telehealth Clinic — has expanded to four sites across the Western Slope. It’s also grown to include many specialty services. Although not suitable for every veteran, telehealth can now be used for skin clinics, cardio, pulmonary, diabetic retinal exams and even mental-health appointments. As technology improves, the VA heath care system expects to see even more specialties offered.
VETERANS CHOICE CARD
Probably the biggest change in 2014 was the creation of a temporary program under the Veterans Choice Act, which allows some veterans to be seen in or near their community.
To qualify for the Choice Card’s initial distribution, veterans must have been enrolled in VA health care by Aug. 1, 2014. Combat veterans who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations in the previous five years are also eligible if they enrolled after Aug. 1, 2014.
Veterans who only use a P.O. Box for their mail will not receive a Choice Card even if they are eligible until they give their VA medical facility a physical address. The address does not have to be used for mailing purposes, but must accurately reflect their place of residence.
There are two primary groups of veterans eligible to use the Choice Card: Veterans who live more than 40 miles straight-line distance, “as the crow flies” from a Veterans Health Administration “point of care;” and veterans who have to wait more than 30 days for care from their preferred date, or the date medically determined by physician.
Contact the Grand Junction Veterans Health Care System for more information.
VETERANS FOSTER HOMES
In the last year, the Veterans Foster Home program has grown from a small pilot program to a vital part of many veterans’ lives. Under the program, veterans who cannot live on their own — but are not interested in living in an assisted living facility and are not yet eligible for nursing home care — live with someone in their private home. Individuals who takes a veteran into their home must pass a background check and agree to regular visits by the facility’s Home Based Primary Care program staff. The veteran and the foster home provider sign a contract, which determines the amount of money the veteran pays to stay in the foster home to establish ground rules and requirements.
For details call 970-263-2800, ext. 1-2376. Please be prepared to leave a message as the foster home coordinator is often working off site.
YOGA IS GROWING
Due to excellent results with its pilot yoga program, Grand Junction Veterans Health Care System is working to expand its yoga program, especially for veterans with specific types and levels of pain. While not a cure-all, yoga has been found to not only help veterans live healthier lives, but also to have an overall better quality of live. Veterans interested in the yoga program should ask their VA primary care provider about participating.
One of the best things to come out of Washington D.C. over the past year has been a simplification of several forms:
VA Form 10-10EZ
Application for Veterans
Please include a copy of your
DD-214 or discharge papers,
which reflect your discharge
VA Form 21-526EZ
Service Connected Disability
VA Form 21-527EZ
Request a Wartime Veterans
FULLY DEVELOPED SCD CLAIMS
If a veteran is able to submit a claim with all the requested information and supporting documents — such as bank routing and account numbers, marriage certificates, DD-214, dependents birth certificates, etc. — the claim is eligible to be declared a “fully developed claim.” The big difference between a fully developed claim and a standard claim is processing time.
A fully developed claim can often be fully processed within 12 months; standard claims, however, can take two years or more to process.
Veteran who have been hospitalized within the last year may have noticed they were not visited by their primary care provider during their stay. That is because nationwide, in nearly all hospitals and medical centers, the new standard of care is for in-patients to be attended by in-patient specific doctors.
The good news is this provides a better level of care for many in-patients because they are not competing for their primary care provider’s time with outpatients.
Many veterans enrolled for care at the VA Medical Center have noticed, and brought to leadership’s attention, the fact that getting a parking space at the medical center between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. has gotten increasing more difficult.
As a result, a plan to build a multi-story parking structure was developed, polished and finally funded in 2013. Construction began in the fall of 2014. The structure is expected to be complete in the late fall of 2015.
NEW VETERANS’ ID CARDS
Completely separate from the Choice Act Cards, veterans began receiving their new Patient Identification Cards in 2014. These new cards are more secure than old cards for a number of reasons. The primary change was the removal of the old bar code on the card, which was based on a veteran’s social security number. At the time these old cards were issued, special equipment was required to read the bar code. Now many smart phones are able to read the cards. Most veterans who already had an old card with a photo embedded will receive a replacement card soon after their annual check-up. Veterans who do not receive a new card by June 2015 or who have never before had a VA-issued ID should contact their primary care team clerk to request the new secure cards. Without the correct documents, staff cannot process a request for the new cards.
Veterans will receive the new card by U.S. postal service.
Veterans who haven’t been to the VA Medical Center or to the Montrose Clinic in several months will notice cubicles as they enter the building. In these cubical are new electronic check-in kiosks, which allow veterans to check in for primary care appointments, update their demographic information, and check on any appointments they might have in the next 30 days.
At the time of publication, these kiosks are only used to check in for primary care appointments and update demographic information. Veterans who do not have an appointment in the next 30 days will have to see their primary care clerk to make any updates.
However, as veterans become more adapt using the kiosks, additional features will be added.
TWO PATIENT ADVOCATES AVAILABLE
With the growth in the number of patients seen at the VA Medical Center, and the increasing complexity of the medical issues veterans are being treated for, a second patient advocate was needed — and hired in 2014.
Advocates provide assistance for veterans on a variety of issues — both clinical and administrative. When possible, veterans resolve clinical-care issues with their PACT team or specialty providers before contacting the patient advocate.
Veterans may also file complaints, or pass compliments, to staff through patient advocates. The patient advocates’ offices are located in the Colorado Corridor; hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In the advocate’s absence, another member of the customer relations staff can assist.
To contact the advocate, call 970-263-2800 — ext. 1- 2469, ext. 1-2402, 1-2407, ext. 1-2408 or ext. 1- 2406.
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