Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Joint Program Established

The Department of Veterans Affairs, DOD, and HHS have recently established the Federal Recovery Coordination Program to help severely injured patients identify sources for help and the services that they may need. The program was set up to help patients connect with a coordinator for information and contacts so that they have access to all needed clinical and non-clinical care. Participating patients can include those with seriously debilitating burns, spinal cord injuries, amputations, visual impairments, traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD.

When a veteran settles in a remote area, the VA is now able to use multimedia systems to integrate video and audio teleconferencing. This lets veterans visit a federal clinic or private center near their homes and then link up with their case coordinator for a meeting.

The agencies are discussing ideas for ongoing improvements to incorporate into the program that may include monitoring. Other improvements could include possible adjustments to staffing, improvements in web-based information to help the service member adjust to civilian life, and links to governmental and private sector services so that the patient’s individual recovery plan can be incorporated into their health records.

Currently, the program is serving 85 patients and their families. Federal recovery coordinators are based at three military hospitals. These hospitals are the hospitals that are most likely to receive severely wounded service members evacuated from the combat theater. The hospitals include Walter Reed Army Medical Center, National Naval Medical Center, and the Brooke Army Medical Center and are now working with seven coordinators and recruiting six additional coordinators and one nurse. A fourth site, the Naval Medical Center San Diego will receive two of the additional four field staff expected to be appointed soon.