Changes and Benefits for Local VA Medical Needs

Telehealth Technician Demonstrates the Diagnostic Computer

Telehealth Technician Demonstrates the Diagnostic Computer

Area veterans were notified about changes in the way they will receive health care from the Veterans’ Administration during a morning seminar at the VA clinic at Prowers Medical Center this past Wednesday, June 26.  Those changes include the use of Telehealth systems, a form of two-way computerized medical examinations.  In the near future, veterans will be treated by VA medical providers and not through contract providers as has been the case, and a new site for a clinic is being determined.  Daniel Warvi, Public Affairs Officer from the Eastern Colorado Health Care System for the VA, said it will be a brand new, state-of-the art clinic once the site has been determined.  The contract with Prowers Medical Center for the current clinic expires on August 31.   

Warvi and Doctor Lithium Lin, Deputy Chief of Staff from the Eastern Colorado VA branch, said an additional benefit will be all future medical records for VA patients will remain in the hands of the Veteran’s Administration health services.  Warvi explained that with the potential growth of the veteran’s treatment center in Ft. Lyons, the VA expects additional veterans in Lamar or La Junta.  He said with the absence of contract providers, the VA could make almost immediate determinations on a patient’s treatment without going through negotiations with a contract medical provider.  “We would be able to react very, very quickly to a veteran’s needs,” he explained.   

The Wednesday seminar provided demonstrations on how telehealth services will be offered in the near future.  An internet technician with medical training will assist a patient through various diagnostic procedures.  A video camera and a video screen will connect the patient with a medical provider who will conduct the examination from different locations around the state, depending on the medical need of the patient.  The computer is equipped with diagnostic devices to assist the examination, including a camera that can be used for dermatology, dentistry and ear or eye examinations.  Besides a live-streaming video, photos can be taken and enlarged for additional study of any area of concern.  Pulse, temperature, breathing, heartbeat..all can be examined on the spot and instantly relayed to a specialist for evaluation.   It was also mentioned that to reduce a patient’s travel time to the VA hospital in Denver, the VA will begin to fee-contract with local medical providers for such areas as eye and ear treatment. 

Lin said the clinic will be staffed by a Registered Nurse, an LPN who will assist with clinical matters and scheduling of patients and a telehealth technician.  A presenter would be in the room with a patient during the exam, but was not essential, for reasons of privacy; the patient and the provider could hold a discussion person to person.  The veterans were also told that this new procedure still ensures complete privacy of their medical condition, adhering to all the Hippa laws for patient confidentiality.  Treatment will also be available for mental health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  The VA clinic at the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center in La Junta is now equipped with the telehealth device. 

Jeremy Miller, Prowers County VA and Vital Statistics Representative

Jeremy Miller, Prowers County VA and Vital Statistics Representative


Jeremy Miller, Prowers County VA Service Officer, was also present during the seminar and he and Warvi stressed the need for veterans of any age to take full advantage of their benefits, especially on a medical level.  Miller has been working to develop outreach programs in the Prowers County community, making contact with local veterans to inform them of their health and education opportunities.  Warvi also echoed the need for veterans to find out how they can benefit through VA programs.  “Younger vets don’t know that they can receive free medical care for the first five years following their military discharge,” he added.  He said they need to make contact and receive the benefits they’re entitled to from their service to their country.  He said the best place to begin is to simply go online to  Warvi said that the older generation of veterans, between 60 and 69 years are frequently using the website and the younger age group needs to use it as an information source.  Jeremy Miller can be contacted in Prowers County at 719-336-2606.

By Russ Baldwin

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