Our veterans deserve the best care they can possibly receive after providing service to our country. Some of the biggest complaints from veterans, and their families, is just how often they aren’t receiving the best—or even the minimum. The VA has been battling a poor reputation over the last few years due to some horrifying stories shared at a congressional hearing back in 2013. In each state, it’s not uncommon to hear complaints about long wait times, being turned away for lack of an appointment, appointments not available for months, and treatments not relevant to the injury. Many veterans have felt that their treatment at the VA was in correlation with the feeling that their government turned their back on them. Last year, the VA released “The Diffusion of Excellence,” and it’s designed to make changes at our VAs in order for veterans to be treated fairly, well, and quickly.
In Biloxi, Mississippi, one VA is allowing a clinical pharmacy resident to come in one day a week and provide primary care to veterans with diabetes. The focus is to help the veterans control their diabetes and see five to eight patients per day. This is a win-win situation for the veterans, the clinical pharmacy resident, and the VA itself. The veteran gets the specialized care they need to take charge of their health and it improves their self-esteem. Additionally, it provides more access for the veteran. The residency is focused on the care of the patient so the resident is learning so much more on how to care for the veteran they are seeing that day.
The Biloxi facility took on this model to increase the veterans’ access to same day primary care. By providing same day care, there is an ability to see more veterans that would normally put off their appointments due to the lack of availability. When it takes months and months to be seen, many patients end up in a situation where they don’t take care of themselves as well. This is a very empowering move by those in pharmaceuticals and empowering to the veterans!
In El Paso, veterans are now able to see a pharmacist and a clinician before their regularly scheduled appointment. This is where they can ask questions, review their treatment plan, and be heard when they have concerns. Amazingly, 76% of those patients end up cancelling their regularly scheduled appointments because they no longer need those appointments. By cancelling that appointment, they are freeing up the schedule and creating a balance that benefits other patients who aren’t able to utilize that initiative at this time.
The VA system is now starting to see a turnaround in their reputation and pharmacists can help out in many new ways thanks to these initiatives. We cannot wait to see how well this improves and what pharmacists will do next!