DOD, VA healthcare officials combine specialties to provide 'one-stop shop'
By Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young, Defense Media Activity
/ Published October 14, 2010
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Through a joint venture between Defense Department and Veterans Affairs officials, medical professionals here are offering DOD and VA patients a combined clinic for heart, lung and vascular care.
The Heart, Lung and Vascular Center at David Grant USAF Medical Center, which opened Oct. 13, is the latest program put into place to allow DOD and VA healthcare professionals to work together to provide active-duty and veteran beneficiaries a wide range of clinical capabilities and services in a unified multi-specialty clinic.
"We are at the forefront of bridging the care from active-duty to veteran status," said Col. (Dr.) Brian Hayes, the 60th Medical Group commander. "Our journey that has led to this day has been long and arduous, but has produced incredible results culminating in a brand new cardiovascular program."
The Heart, Lung and Vascular Center, a program three years in the making, includes a new cardiac catheter lab, a new hybrid cardiology-vascular operating room and a cardiac intensive care unit.
"Between the Air Force and (University of California at Davis Medical Center) and the VA (officials), we've done what no one else has done, but what really matters is what it brings to our combined beneficiaries," said Dr. Brian O'Neill, the director of the Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System.
With the opening of this facility, a variety of heart, lung and circulation specialists and surgeons with the latest technology are on hand so the patients will only have to be seen at one clinic. This clinic also will allow specialists to perform combined procedures without moving the patient.
Also through joint VA-DOD efforts, officials updated and expanded the Hemodialysis Clinic, which is now the largest in the Air Force, and acquired two state-of-the-art linear accelerators for the Joint Radiation-Oncology Center. The Neurosurgery, Inpatient Mental Health Unit and Peritoneal Dialysis centers were also updated through Joint Incentive Funds grants.
With a combined service area of about 500,000 patients, the VA-DOD staff at DGMC is the largest in the nation. This 16-year partnership creates unique training opportunities for the combined staff, Dr. O'Neill said.
"We combine a clinical mission with the VA and the Air Force, but also a training mission for servicemen and women to provide state-of-the art-care for our battle warriors," he said. "They will be deployed at one time or another and they get the training to prepare them for battle injury treatment right here at David Grant, which is an incredibly important part of the Air Force mission."
In addition to training opportunities, Dr. O'Neill said the partnership also provides a venue for research opportunities in the future.
"We are really excited, because it meets the professional needs of the Air Force, the VA and UC Davis," he said. "It's truly a win-win-win."