This past week, Feb. 14 to Feb. 20, 2021, was National Salute to Veteran Patients. The purpose of the annual celebration is to recognize our Veterans, increase public awareness about our medical center, and encourage our community to not only visit our hospitalized Veterans but also to volunteer. Of course, since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, our public-facing efforts this year have been limited. However, it’s important that we recognize our Veterans and those who volunteer their time and talents.
One group that we highlighted this year is our Community Living Center (CLC) patients. Truman VA’s CLC is one of more than 100 Veteran Health Administration nursing centers across the country. On our CLC, Veterans receive nursing home care in a home-like environment. Some Veterans stay for short periods, while others require life-long care. However, no matter how long their stay, our mission is to restore each Veteran to his or her highest level of wellbeing. Our current CLC is a 35-bed unit. However, construction is underway to build a new state-of the-art facility on our medical center campus.
Another group that we want to recognize is our volunteers. Many of those who donate their time are Veterans themselves, and several receive their health care at Truman VA. The work they do is vital. Among other duties, our volunteers start each Veteran’s medical visit off by locating their appointment and often escort them to their clinic. Although this past fiscal year has been challenging because of COVID-19, in fiscal year 2019, more than 380 volunteers provided more than 49,000 volunteer hours.
About 25 percent of all Veterans in the United States live in rural communities. That’s almost 5 million Veterans. Of the almost 40,000 Veterans that we provide care to, approximately 80 percent live in rural areas and receive care at one of our Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs).
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs currently has over 800 CBOCs across the country. Truman VA has eight mid-Missouri CBOCs that are located in Jefferson City, Kirksville, Marshfield, Mexico, Osage Beach, St. James, Sedalia, and Waynesville. Our clinics primarily provide outpatient services such as health and wellness visits. However, we’ve also expanded in many areas to include specialty care such as ophthalmology, podiatry, audiology and Behavioral Health.
As part of our commitment to our rural Veterans, we’ve also continued to modernize and expand our CBOCs. For example, we will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at our new Camdenton CBOC location at the end of March this year. We’ll also celebrate the completion of our new Sedalia clinic this summer.
Like everyone in health care, COVID-19 has required us to be very creative with how we deliver care. However, even during the darkest hours of the pandemic we continued to provide leading-edge services to our rural Veterans through the use of VA Video Connect. VA truly is a leader in health care innovation and I’m proud to be part of the largest integrated health care system in the country.
In addition to our other patient care services, I want to recognize Truman VA’s COVID vaccine clinic team. It goes without saying that vaccinating our Veterans against COVID-19 currently is one of our most important health missions. Simply put, our goal is to get vaccines into arms. Our team has been very successful in doing just that ― at our dedicated weekly clinic here at Truman VA and also at our rural CBOC vaccine clinics.
To date, we have vaccinated almost 10,000 mid-Missouri Veterans ― that’s more than 25 percent of our patient population! We’re also on-track with our second doses of the COVID vaccine. Conducting multiple on- and off-site clinics each week is logistically challenging. However, our vaccine clinic team is doing an outstanding job. In addition to our staff, I also want to thank our Veterans for protecting our communities by choosing to be vaccinated.
Truman VA holds a dedicated COVID-19 vaccine clinic for enrolled eligible Veterans each week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday at our medical center, which is located at 800 Hospital Drive. Veterans are vaccinated by appointment. Enrolled eligible Veterans must call (573) 814-6000, extension 54300, to make an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Additionally, if you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering at Truman VA, please contact Ron Graves, Chief of Voluntary Services, by calling (573) 814-6218 or by email at Ronald.Graves@va.gov.
Patricia Hall, PhD, FACHE, is the medical center director of Truman VA and a U.S. Army Veteran.