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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) strives to provide veterans with high-quality and timely services, said Lisa Moore, Coordinator, Managed Care Contracts. To help reach this goal, it has developed the VA Community Care Network, that contracts with community-based hospitals and other health care providers, including St. Luke’s University Health Network, for the delivery of services.
To ensure timely care, veterans who are unable to get an appointment at a VA Medical Center or outpatient provider within 30 days may schedule an appointment through a participating Community Care Network, Moore said. Many veterans find this option convenient because the nearest VA hospital could be more than an hour’s drive away. Nearby VA hospitals are located in Wilkes-Barre, Coatesville, Philadelphia, Lebanon, and Lyons, New Jersey.
“In the past, getting a referral to a community hospital could be complicated, but we have simplified the process,” Moore said. “These people have put their lives on the line for their country. The last thing we should do is to make it difficult for them to receive healthcare.” VA services include medical, behavioral health, surgical, and complementary and integrative health services. When an immediate need exists, durable medical equipment and pharmacy services may also be provided.
Each veteran’s level of coverage and required co-pays vary based on several factors, such as military service history, disability, income level, and whether they qualify for Medicaid. For example, a veteran with full coverage could receive services at a VA facility without any out-of-pocket costs or at a VA Community Care Network hospital when there is an extended wait time for an appointment.
If a veteran can’t get an appointment within 30 days, the VA scheduler will ask the veteran if they would like to be seen at a community hospital and will refer to a list of providers, Moore explained. The patient may, however, request their preferred provider.
“We want the veteran to say, ‘St. Luke’s is in our area, they have a very good reputation, I want to go to St. Luke’s,’ ” Moore said. Then, the VA will make the referral to the community provider.
St. Luke’s welcomed the opportunity to participate in the VA Community Care Network, said Von George, St. Luke’s Network Director, Supply Chain Logistics. As an organization committed to serving the community, it was only natural to support the individuals who have stepped up to serve our country.
In addition to participating in the VA Community Care Network, St. Luke’s 12 hospital campuses recognize those who have served in the military in various ways, such having reserved parking spaces for veterans and placing magnets identifying them on the doors of their hospital rooms. This alerts the hospital staff so they can extend their appreciation for the veteran’s service.
In January, St. Luke’s plans to launch a new veterans’ section on its website, www.sluhn.org, to provide information about veterans’ patient services, employment, and special events and programs. Among the special programs are free breakfasts for veterans at the hospitals on or near Veterans Day.
“St. Luke’s is proud to recognize veterans and their commitment and dedication,” George said. “They were willing to raise their right hands and pledge their lives to serve our country. We’re honored to serve them.”
You May Be Eligible for VA Healthcare Coverage
Veterans who served in the active military, naval, or air services, and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge may be eligible for VA healthcare benefits. To be eligible, veterans must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty. In addition, any service person who was discharged for a disability that was caused or made worse by active duty is eligible. For more information about VA health care, visit www.va.gov/health-care.