Veterans Caring for Veterans: For St. Vincent’s Staff, the Veterans Choice Program is Personal

May 27, 2016

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut – For staff at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, being a Veterans Choice healthcare provider is more than just a job; it’s personal. For many, as veterans themselves, they know firsthand of the sacrifices the men and women in the armed forces have made to serve and protect the United States. To show their gratitude, St. Vincent’s staff members have recorded oath videos that share their personal reasons for wanting to care for their comrades.

Christopher Willey, Veterans Choice Program Administrator, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, was the first to record a video oath. In it he states, “I, Chris Willey, do solemnly swear to care for any eligible veteran at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. I will do my best to lead my team to provide compassionate, personalized care for all, especially those most in need. I am honored to serve our veterans because as a veteran myself, I want to carry on the mission that I started as a Navy Corpsman. I promise to continue to care for my fellow service members anytime they are in need so they can experience the high quality healthcare and services that St. Vincent’s offers with Gentler Hands and Sharper Minds.” Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10hVJ01O8oc&feature=youtu.be&list=PLQ12kR7vS5cYkH5xuaOOi1RiM9OiTIeRw

The personal oaths are part of a national awareness campaign to reach veterans to let them know who their local Veterans Choice Ascension healthcare provider is. Watch St. Vincent’s awareness spot. (link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsOKVaUgQjU) The campaign, “Veterans honored their oath. And so do we.”, invites Ascension caregivers across the country to share their personal motivation for caring for veterans. 

In Scott Brennan’s video, he explains, “… As a veteran, it was an honor to serve with my brothers and sisters. Today, it is my honor to care for them when they need it most.” Brennan serves as the Veterans Choice Patient Navigator for St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO38wmwwzzA&feature=youtu.be&list=PLQ12kR7vS5cYkH5xuaOOi1RiM9OiTIeRw

Lauren [last name intentionally withheld], a social worker, has this to say, “I will do my best to be a compassionate social worker and to treat each veteran who walks through the doors as if they are the brothers and sisters I served with in Iraq. I am deeply honored to care for my fellow veterans.” Click to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McWemHgEDZo&feature=youtu.be&list=PLQ12kR7vS5cYkH5xuaOOi1RiM9OiTIeRw

Rick McCarthy, who is the Chief Information Officer for St. Vincent’s, shares, “As a Navy Commander in the Medical Service Corps, I served with my fellow brothers and sisters for 21 years. Continuing my service to our veterans in my civilian career at St. Vincent’s is an honor and a blessing.” Click to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0TII6B3lvQ&feature=youtu.be&list=PLQ12kR7vS5cYkH5xuaOOi1RiM9OiTIeRw

St. Vincent’s recently announced a partnership to provide care through the Veterans Choice Program, giving veterans the opportunity to receive care at St. Vincent’s locations throughout Connecticut. Now qualified U.S. veterans who face wait times in excess of 30 days at the VA or have to travel farther than 40 miles from their home can receive care from St. Vincent’s doctors. As part of Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare system and the world’s largest Catholic health system, St. Vincent’s Medical Center joins 23 other states and the District of Columbia in sustaining and improving the health of individuals and our communities by serving as an official provider of Veteran Care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 established funding to pay for healthcare services provided to veterans by private healthcare providers. Through the partnership, St. Vincent’s physicians and other caregivers are authorized to provide primary care, inpatient and outpatient specialty care, and mental health care for eligible veterans outside of VA. 

“This program is personal for so many of us, either because we served or we have a family member who is a veteran,” explains Willey, a resident of Milford, who served in the United States Navy. “For others with no personal or family connection, it’s way to say thank you for your service. Your sacrifice is appreciated.”

St. Vincent’s is working with Health Net, which is designated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to implement the Veterans Choice Program and provide eligible veterans access to care in their community when the local VA facility cannot readily provide care. Ascension has established a national provider registration with Health Net Federal Services, LLC, which is a federal health benefit administrator to the VA.

Nearly nine million veterans received the Veterans Choice Card. Use of the card is strictly voluntary; veterans who qualify for VA healthcare can continue to receive care at a VA medical facility as they have in the past. The program will end when the allocated funds of $10 billion are used or no later than August 7, 2017. 

Veterans can determine eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program at http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/ or by calling the number on their Choice Card, 1-866-606-8198. They also can contact the Ascension National Veterans Call Center at 1-844-623-3003, for more information about Ascension and the care we provide or for assistance scheduling an appointment with a local Ascension provider who is participating in the Veterans Choice Program.

U.S. veterans, St. Vincent’s Medical Center patients, and caregivers who are interested in learning more about the Veterans Choice Program are encouraged to visit www.ascension.org/veterans

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