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Change for the Better

Reprinted from PN April 2012

Changes are taking place on PN's pages as well as in VA healthcare delivery.

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With spring just around the corner and winter coming to an end, it will be good to see the temperatures rise and the sun out more than it has been. Nice to see the seasons change; for those of us who live in the northern areas of the United States, it’s welcome.

Not only have the seasons changed, but in this month’s issue of PN, you will find some differences as well. In previous editorials I mentioned some of our plans. However, if you didn’t pay close attention to this issue’s cover, go back and check it out. We deleted the tan block that was on the top right corner of the front cover and listed the major stories in small type.

We will use this area to enhance the graphic art selected for the cover, and we will place the lead stories at appropriate places on the front in larger type so they are easier to read and attract your attention to something you may be particularly interested in. The PN logo in the blue block on the top left is retained because it is regarded as an identifier and is a significant recognition symbol of the magazine.

For those of you who have been following the development of our websites, opposite the contributors information is online-only material for your review. Check out the websites pvamag.com and sportsnspokes.com. They are not duplicates of PN and SPORTS ’N SPOKES, and have information that is updated more frequently than the print copy permits.

Finally, one of the pages used most frequently by PVA members lists the addresses and telephone numbers of the PVA service offices in the United States. We used to place this page in various locations in the magazine. This required readers to hunt for it when they needed it. From now on, it will be at the back of the magazine.

We hope these changes enhance your enjoyment of the magazines and the websites. If you have any suggestions, please let us know. You can reach us at the contacts on p. 5.

Change is also taking place in VA healthcare delivery. My July 2011 editorial (“Help Is Nearby”) was about the work by Dr. Sophia Chun, chief, SCI Service–Long Beach, Calif. The program she and her team started was intended to integrate outreach to rural SCI veterans who did not use the specialties of the SCI service offered at major hospitals. Many used local civilian healthcare or their Community Based Outreach Clinic (CBOC). 

As a user of CBOCs in western Montana, I can testify they are not designed to provide specialized care to SCI veterans. They can deal with routine healthcare issues, but when it comes to crafting a health delivery profile for an SCI veteran that covers all aspects of his/her needs, CBOCs and even regular tertiary-care hospitals fall short. 

Chun’s plan is to use the CBOC and the new smaller VA referral clinics popping up all over the country as a vehicle to access SCI veterans. The program does this by connecting SCI veterans via a video link where they are speaking directly with the physician, therapist, nurse, or whoever is needed at the major SCI center. That way, the health problems a veteran is having can be discussed with SCI specialists who are experts in their respective fields. The SCI center then coordinates transportation, medication selection, prosthetic assistance, or other services and specialized care.

I have seen this system in operation, and I can vouch for its effectiveness. Many of us want to live in an area where our families are or where access to specialized care is not available. Chun’s program permits us to do that and to ensure we have access to the quality of care we require.

The first Rural Outreach Healthcare grant was received and used to set up the system. Chun’s team submitted an additional grant, and it also has been funded. This is an expensive program, but the return is minimal when you consider the preventative healthcare it provides. Just helping a veteran avoid or caring for a medical issue over the video system or fast access to a center saves thousands of dollars of hospital care. We wish Chun and her team the very best in her work. 

Have a great end of winter and beginning of spring.

 

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Change for the Better

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