A New Era of VA Health Care for Deep South Texas Veterans

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On October 1, 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the official debut of its 154th VA health care system.  The VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VATVCBHCS) was established based on the recognized need for an expansion of Veterans’ health care services in Deep South Texas.  The newest VA health care system encompasses twenty counties comprised of Laredo, McAllen, Harlingen, and Corpus Christi service areas.

The VATVCBHCS leadership team is now in place with their offices located in Harlingen, Texas near the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen which will open in January 2011.  Decisions on budgets, management, expansion of programs, hiring staff and other key issues are now made locally and independently from the VA in San Antonio.

Currently, the VATVCBHCS is continuing with its expansion plans for the Health Care System to include the addition of the home care program; home based primary care will also be implemented so that eligible Veterans can receive care in their homes.  The Health Care System is also expanding their Homeless program in order to meet VA Secretary Shinseki’s goal of eliminating Veteran Homelessness in five years.  Patient Aligned Care Teams are also being implemented to ensure that Veterans are seen in a more timely and comprehensive manner through improved care coordination.  Additionally, ongoing enhancements to Mental Health services enable the VATVCBHCS to provide needed behavioral health services to all Veterans.

A short overview of the expansion plans is detailed below:

Laredo Region

A new Laredo Outpatient Clinic expansion project totaling 16,608 sq. ft. is in progress and should be completed in 2013.  This will allow for an expansion of health care services for Veterans in the Laredo area.

Rio Grande Valley Region

Effective April 13, 2009 enrolled Veterans have been able to use South Texas Health System hospitals and Valley Baptist hospitals for inpatient, emergency, and inpatient behavioral services.  In January 2011, a three story 120,000 sq. ft. Health Care Center at Harlingen will open.  This new facility will provide a full range of outpatient services including six surgical suites, colonoscopy and cystoscopy suites, medicine and surgery specialty clinics, prosthetics care, amputee clinic, and substance abuse treatment.  Veterans will begin being seen in the new Health Care Center on January 18, 2011.  In 2012 a new 52,000 sq. ft. clinic will be activated in McAllen.  This new facility will be double the size of the existing clinic.

Coastal Bend Region

A new 33,000 sq. ft. specialty clinic has been approved for Corpus Christi, Texas and is scheduled to open in 2012.  Expanded services at the new clinic will include cardiology, pulmonary, dermatology, endocrinology, urology, ophthalmology, dental, podiatry, pharmacy, laboratory, physical therapy, prosthetics, and orthopaedics.   Upon completion of the new clinic, the existing 26,000 sq. ft. primary care outpatient clinic will be extensively renovated.

This is only a snap shot of the current expansion plans in store for Veterans in Deep South Texas.  Also included in this expansion plan is an aggressive National emphasis for the expeditious implementation of the VA’s Veteran Centered Care program – a more patient and family focused initiative that will focus on the mind, body, and spirit of America’s heroes and improve overall health care delivery.

The VATVCBHCS’s internet website will be available very soon at www.texasvalley.va.gov.  Stay connected with the VATVCBHCS at www.facebook.com/VCBHCS or www.twitter.com/VAVCBHCS.

If you are a Veteran and not enrolled for care with the VA, please stop by one of the VA clinics and register today.  Should you have eligibility questions or if you would like to submit your application online visit: www.va.gov/amieligible or call toll free 1-877-222-8387 (VETS).