By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Veterans of Tucker County were in attendance during the recent Town Hall meeting. Guest speakers visiting from the Louis A. Johnson VAMC were Chief of Staff Gerson Teran, MD, Medical Center Director Barbara Forsha, MSN, RN, ET, and Veteran’s Experience Officer John Dominic Seti. The goal of the meeting was to inform the audience that Veterans Affairs wants to expand services and make it better for Veterans.
Dr. Teran explained to the audience that he was not a Vet but had worked with the Navy for almost seven years. Teran supplied information for future services that may be coming to the Tucker County Veteran’s Clinic.
One of those services would enable the Veterans to communicate virtually with the best specialists available. The patient would come to the clinic and speak to doctors on a big screen TV or stay at home and visit through video chat on phones. The clinic would be available for those with low cell phone service or no internet access.
The virtual doctor’s visit would increase the turn over time for getting appointments with needed specialists. Currently, there can up to two or more months before a patient can be seen in person by a specialist. Teran said, “It takes me over two or three months to get you an appointment to see a Dermatologist. It takes me over a month to get you an appointment with an Oncologist. This is not easy. It is extremely complicated. However, if I have my own providers and physicians, I think we can do this together we can provide care with our physicians to you within a few days to a couple of weeks.”
Of course, there are incidents where the virtual doctors’ visits could not collaborate with patients who were hearing or visually impaired.
Forsha addressed the audience about the shortage of nursing staff and physicians not just in the VA but nationwide across the country. Some of things that affected that shortage has been COVID, two thirds of the nursing population sit on the potential for retirement age at a given time and a shortage of training nurses and facility.
Forsha said, “In our facilities we have done everything we can to encourage nurses to come to work for us.” Forsha reported there are more nurses coming to work with the Veterans Affairs than leaving at this time.
Forsha stated about the potential closing of the clinic, “This is a recommendation from the Veterans Affairs Commission, and is not set in stone. We are enhancing the clinic. We are going to continue to do that.
The reason for the recommendation was to enhance the experience to Veterans in this geographic area. Having a larger facility where the most Veterans are and supplying expanded services is why.”
Roxanne Tuesing was a member of the audience and asked what the Veterans and residents of Tucker County need to do to rally together and fight for the clinic in Parsons to remain open. Forsha recommended that everyone that wishes to express their concerns call or write their Senator, Congressman, or Governor and let them know that the closing of the clinic would not be in best interest of the Veterans of Tucker County and the seven surrounding counties that utilizes the clinic.