Lehigh Valley, PA (PRWEB) November 11, 2014
The Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council’s (LVMAC’s) Health Care in our Community Task Force announced its readiness for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) purchased care programs outlined in H.R. 3230, Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (as passed July 30, 2014). The LVMAC project is cited by regional, state and federal agencies along with private sector organizations and academic institutions as a coalition model worthy of replication.
“Today we mark a celebration of the service of current and past military men and women that have made the United States of America strong and resilient throughout her history,” stated Major General (retired) Gerald “Gerry” Still, president of LVMAC. “Just down the street, in 1777, the Zion’s Liberty Bell Church safeguarded our nation’s most famous symbol of freedom – the Liberty Bell – and served as a hospital after the Battle of Brandywine. On this special Veterans Day, we are pleased to report our commitment has never been stronger to safeguard, care for and support our military men and women—also symbols of freedom.”
The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) announced its plan to promote the LVMAC coalition model and veteran screening/identification processes. “We are excited to share in the successful, innovative efforts of a community-based veteran healthcare initiative grown right here in Eastern Pennsylvania,” stated Dr. Michael Consuelos, HAP’s senior vice president - Clinical Integration.
According to a founding project member and co-chair Eric Johnson, an Air Force Medical Service Corps Operation ENDURING FREEDOM veteran, the coalition launched three years ago on November 9, 2011. Since then, it has succeeded in sustaining—and expanding beyond —the alliance of all the original regional hospitals. The alliance now includes Coordinated Health, Easton Hospital, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, Grand View Health, Lancaster General Health, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Pocono Medical Center, Sacred Heart Hospital, and St. Luke's University Health Network.
The coalition’s Veterans Advocacy Liaison Officers (VALOs), representing each hospital/healthcare system at monthly meetings, launched on Veteran’s Day 2013 a standardized veteran patient screening and identification process crucial to ensuring veterans receive the best possible care tailored to their unique cultural experiences and complex medical backgrounds. Combined with provider/clinician education on veteran- and military-centric medicine, the screening/identification process poises each coalition member hospital to be best positioned to receive veterans and coordinate their care across health systems under the emerging VA purchased care programs.
James Conway, adjunct faculty member with the Harvard School of Public Health, has endorsed the LVMAC initiative, stating to the Lehigh Valley coalition members, “Across health and healthcare, we are learning in the power and potential of partnership that we must meet patients and families where they are. Cookie-cutter solutions are ineffective. They are also disrespectful. You are developing a model that many can learn from.”
“In order to provide the best possible care and other social services to this community, we need to know who the veterans are when they hit our many hospital system points of entry,” stated Air Force retired Lieutenant Colonel and Co-Chair Alexander Alex. “Once we know they are veterans, we can better ensure service-connected injuries are addressed and the appropriate coordination with the VA and other government health care providers is accomplished. Additionally, by capturing their status, we can examine health care utilization patterns, ensure ease of access and improve quality outcomes for our military men and women. As we continue to work toward this end, we now seek to explore the concept of a ‘Veteran-centered Medical Home.’”
“The Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council is demonstrating exemplary regional and national leadership in its innovative and community-based approach to ensuring warrior-centric platforms are implemented locally that will improve and sustain high quality healthcare and supportive service delivery for the veteran and military populations,” said Ronald Steptoe of the Steptoe Group, a nationally recognized training and consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area and involved in Warrior-Centric Healthcare Training to medical professionals and organizations. “The Steptoe Group is excited and very pleased to be partnering with the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council to improve healthcare and supportive services for the vested interest of the nation's service members, retirees, veterans and their families.”
“We are truly blessed to have this continued level of community commitment to the cause of improving military and veteran health care,” stated Richard Hudzinski, LVMAC’s Veterans Affairs Committee Chair and a retired Army veteran, under whom the project team falls. “Each of our member hospitals has a deep-rooted desire to help a uniquely diverse group of military veterans and their families. We kicked off a project that built upon these already evident commitments and have an enduring coalition of VALOs working actively together to support the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DOD), and each other, to continue providing the best possible care to our veterans who need and deserve this.”
LVMAC operates only in the counties of Lehigh and Northampton in Pennsylvania but its membership is open to any public or private organization or individual, regardless of location, willing to support its mission, goals and objectives for the Lehigh Valley military-veterans community. For more information, go to its website at http://www.lvmac.org.
If you would like more information on this project, please contact:
Healthcare in Our Community Task Force
Mr. Eric Johnson, Co-Chair
Mr. Alexander Alex, Co-Chair