Since 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health has been developing and implementing solutions to access problems for rural Veterans, including those living on the East End of Long Island.
As with the 41 percent of Veterans across the country, East End veterans live in rural areas, far away from the nearest VA Medical Center or its clinics in Patchogue and East Meadow, NY.
With the help of Suffolk County, Northport VA Medical Center, which serves Nassau and Suffolk County Veterans, has expanded access to veterans on the East End with the opening of its new community-based outpatient clinic at the Riverhead County Seat last May.
What’s more, Northport’s recently appointed Rural Health Coordinator, Joanne Anderson, RN, has been visiting East End Veterans and community groups to promote the new Riverhead clinic, VA’s mobile health clinic, home-based primary care program, and tele-health.
VA’s investment in tele-health technology take veteran care on Long Island beyond brick-and-mortar operations and into Veterans’ homes, which saves them travel time and costs and allows VA clinicians to provide expert care from miles away.
Now, veterans living great distances from Northport or its clinics have care coordinators that help follow blood pressure and blood sugar and who can respond to questions about their general conditions. They also assist veterans by promoting self-management skills and the individual's responsibility for his or her health.
Tele-health patients also receive health education to manage a variety of chronic conditions including congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension & depression.
There are three types of Tele-health offered. The first, Home Tele-health, which, with the help of a simple, but useful, piece of equipment, veterans’ health data is transmitted over the telephone line to their care coordinators at Northport. New technology also allows VA to connect with veterans through their cell phones. If veterans don’t have a phone, no problem; VA has cellular modem technology for that.
There’s also Clinic Video Tele-health that involves the use of interactive videoconferencing and attached peripheral medical technology (e.g. blood pressure cuff or stethoscope) to deliver care between hospitals and clinic settings.
Lastly, there’s Store and Forward Tele-health that involves the electronic transfer of clinical data and/or images from one site to another for the purpose of provider experts rendering medical opinions or diagnoses.
Who is Eligible?
Veterans who have chronic conditions, including, but not limited to: congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes mellitus (DM), hypertension (HTN), and other conditions where technology and care coordination could improve the veteran’s life.
If the veteran receives palliative care services because of a terminal illness or wants to lose weight or has a wound that requires close monitoring, tele-health care and technology offers veterans the support they need to succeed from home. And there are numerous circumstances through which the use of Tele-health technology can improve veterans’ quality of life.
Veterans seeking tele-health…
Applying for Tele-health is easy. Interested veterans can speak with their VA primary care provider for a referral to the tele-health program or they can call 1-877-925-5090 or 631-261-4400, extensions 2971 or 4056.