MOU signed to improve healthcare for vets - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

MOU signed to improve healthcare for vets

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - In the next few months, veterans will be able to avail themselves of health services at all ends of the island.   Today a memorandum of understanding was signed kicking into gear an initiative considered a "bold new concept in healthcare" for those who served our country.  

The gaps in health services for veterans across the United States has made national headlines and some would say here at home, it's even more challenging. "Being in Guam a territory, far away from the 48 contiguous states, that those gaps are even wider just because of our geography and distance from the high population centers," said Governor Eddie Calvo.

However a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Public Health and the Veterans Affairs Pacific Island Health Care System may help bridge those gaps in healthcare for our veterans. Calvo signed the MOU Tuesday afternoon, saying, "I want to thank everyone here for their cooperation, working collaboratively toward improving the quality of services for our veterans this is very monumental."

The only primary care veterans currently receive is at the Agana Heights Community Based Outpatient Clinic. The veterans clinic is considered too small and at times, cannot accommodate all the VA patients on island. Guam VA clinic nurse manager Bernadette Santos said, "The purpose of this project is open up access to care to veterans who live in more rural areas as you know, people who live in the central area is already covered with the CBOC which is in Agana Heights so for them to be able to access care in the northern and southern area will be great we will have VA employees who will be providing this primary care and not only primary care, but mental health services as well, we are looking to getting a psychiatrist on board so we will have a medical doctor for primary care, supported by a registered nurse, and a medical support assistance and also a psychiatrist."

A security guard will also be a part of the team.

Under the agreement, Public Health will let the PIHCS use two of its examining rooms and a bathroom at both the Northern and Southern Health Community Centers for four days each week free of charge to render medical care to veterans. PIHCS will in return, furnish a rural health extension care team to provide primary and mental health care services to veterans at no cost to the PIHCS. Public Health director James Gillan said, "We owe these veterans a debt that sometimes our veterans' administration forgets about and we're going to do it somehow for our community health center."

This effort is funded through federal money estimated around half a million dollars. The rural health extension care team expects modest numbers at first around 30 within the first quarter. However, that number could climb as a recent uniformed data system report shows that at least 70 veterans are currently being serviced by Public Health. Most of the team has already been hired with operations set to start at the end of April. 
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