Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS)
New VA Clinic expands services to Veterans, Active Duty
Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) recently officially opened the Wiregrass Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Lyster Army Health Clinic, Fort Rucker, Ala. in a short ceremony.
"The grand opening of the Wiregrass CBOC exemplifies our commitment to continue to provide services closer to where Veterans live," said CAVHCS Director, Glen E. Struchtemeyer during the ceremony. "It also represents the continued momentum of increased collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense."
In August of 2007 CAVHCS announced the signing of an expanded sharing agreement with Lyster Army Health Clinic, Fort Rucker, Ala., which lead to the opening of the VA Wiregrass Outpatient Clinic March 21, 2008. As a result many of the Veterans in the Wiregrass Region no longer had to drive more than 100 miles to CAVHCS' Medical Centers in Montgomery, Ala. or Tuskegee, Ala. for primary services like X-ray, laboratory work, optometry consultations or pharmacy support.
The expansion of the original 2007 sharing agreement coincided with a Joint Incentive Fund (JIF) project approval. JIF is a result of Section 721 of the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which required the establishment of a joint fund to provide incentives for creating innovative DoD/VA sharing initiatives.
The purpose of JIF, which is administered by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), is to provide seed money for creative sharing initiatives at facility, regional and national levels to facilitate the mutually beneficial coordination, use, or exchange of health care resources. The goal is to improve the access to and quality and cost effectiveness of, the health care provided to beneficiaries of both departments.
In August 2008 CAVHCS and Lyster Health Clinic received JIF approval to support construction and rehab of the Lyster Health Clinic's 2nd Floor. This $2.9 million project began in June of 2009 and was completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in June of 2010. The result is the grand opening of the Wiregrass Community Based Outpatient Clinic. The planned expansion of services include Primary Care, Mental Health, MRI/CT, Audiology, and eventually Sleep Study screening and Dental.
In June of 2010, the momentum of increased local Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense collaboration resulted in the installation of a Hitachi Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Toshiba Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) Scan suite in Lyster Health Clinic. This $3.5 million joint investment resulted in the delivery of a state-of-the-art imaging capability, which provides a direct diagnostic benefit for both the active duty and Veteran communities.
CAVHCS' recent success in expanding services to Veterans through collaboration with DoD care providers is not limited to the Wiregrass region. "We've been successful in engaging JIF elsewhere," explained Struchtemeyer. "In the past we worked with the 42nd Medical Group on Maxwell (Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala.) to secure a new MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in Montgomery. Each of us, by ourselves, didn't have enough usage to fund an MRI. However, together we were able to justify the expenditure; JIF agreed and provided the funding. "We're actively looking for opportunities to expand services throughout our catchment area by collaborating with DoD - like with Martin Army Hospital (Fort Benning, Ga.). We've already been doing things like providing social work support to expand our working relationship and support a more seamless transition for wounded warriors. If we find additional opportunity to access JIF funding for another project that will benefit both of our beneficiaries, then I'm sure we'll be ready to submit it for consideration. We have a strong track record."