St. Cloud VA named Virtual Health Center of Excellence - St. Cloud VA Health Care System
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St. Cloud VA Health Care System


St. Cloud VA named Virtual Health Center of Excellence

December 26, 2018

The St. Cloud VA Health Care system was recently named as a Virtual Health Implementation Center for Excellence by the VHA’s Office of Connected Care.

As a Center of Excellence, the St. Cloud VA is committed to improving Veterans’ access to care and health outcomes using virtual care tools. The St. Cloud VA will play a key role in informing how VHA can successfully implement virtual care methods and shape the evolution of virtual health tools and their implementation to ensure their safe and effective use and broader adoption across the VA health system.

“With the rurality of our Veteran population, we want to be industry leaders in taking medicine to the Veteran instead of always requiring the Veteran to come to us. This is great news for our Veterans and our communities,” said St. Cloud VA Director Stephen Black.

Now and into the future, VA will deliver more and more services via Connected Care, or virtual health. Simply put, these methods put the power of the internet to work in support of Veterans’ health plans, Black said. 

Current virtual health methods include VA’s online personal health record MyHealtheVet, telehealth programs, online scheduling, text messaging appointment reminders, VA Video Connect appointments and a variety of clinically approved applications (Apps) for computers and smartphones.

More methods are in development, and the St. Cloud VA will play a key role in their development, with a local focus on extending care to Central Minnesota’s rural Veteran population, said Black.

All primary care and mental health providers at the St. Cloud VA are ready and equipped to deliver care to Veterans over a smartphone today, Black added, and these technologies will increase convenience and access to care for every Veteran.

Now, and in the future, more and more care is being provided to Veterans via Care in the Community, or Non-VA care.  VA’s role as a coordinator of Veteran care will grow, and Veterans can expect to routinely be treated by community providers using virtual care methods.

“Virtual care is here today, and its use will expand in the future. Veterans can be assured that VA is focused on making it as easy as possible for them to use virtual care methods,” Black added. “In addition to making these methods easy for Veterans to use, the St. Cloud VA is also intent on making sure Veterans are taught how to use them.”

VA is changing its approach to health care and rapidly adapting new care delivery methods, and increasing use of virtual care methods is one example.  These changes are being used now, so the St. Cloud VA has built a series of classes and incorporated them into a Basic Training curriculum to help Veterans understand and adopt these innovative approaches to receiving care.

“We value Veterans, and these Basic Training courses offer essential learning to enhance their experience at the VA by making it easier for them to get the services they need,” Black said.

Courses include:

Coffee Talk: An informal orientation to VA health care with a “how to” presentation followed by Q & A and tour.  Participants can also dial-in via phone to Coffee Talks at 800-767-1750, enter code 11242#. The 2019 schedule includes the following dates; Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1 & 18, Apr. 5 & 15; May 3 & 20; June 7 & 17; July 5 & 15; Aug. 2 & 19; Sept. 6 & 16; Oct. 4 & 21; Nov. 1 & 18; and Dec. 6 & 16.

Connected Care:  A course that will teach you how to use your smart phone, tablet, or laptop to help bring VA healthcare right to your fingertips, including video visits from home with your provider. Bring your smart phones, tablets, and laptops.  The 2019 schedule includes the following dates: Jan. 14 & 28; Feb. 11 & 25; March 1 & 25; Apr. 8 & 22; May 13; June 10 & 24; July 8 & 22; Aug. 12 & 26; Sept. 9 & 23; Oct. 14 & 28; Nov. 25; and Dec. 9 & 23. 

Intro to Whole Health:  An education class taught by Veteran peers that equips you to take charge of your health by emphasizing a self-focus on body, mind, spirit and soul, surroundings and other factors that help you create a personal system of life care. The 2019 schedule includes the following dates; Jan. 4; Feb. 1; March 1 & 18; Apr. 5 & 15; May 3 & 20; June 7 & 20; July 5 & 15; Aug. 2 & 19; Sept. 6 & 16; Oct. 4 & 21; Nov. 1 & 18; and Dec. 6 & 16. 
Taking Charge of My Life & Health: Completion of Intro to Whole Health is a prerequisite. These eight distinct classes expand on the knowledge gained in the Intro to Whole Health course, and help you refine specific strategies to improve your own health and well-being in an informal group setting with other Veterans. The 2019 schedule includes the following dates: Feb. 20 & 27; March 20 & 27; Apr. 17 & 24; May 15 & 22; June 19 & 26; July 17 & 24; Aug. 21 & 28; 18 & 25; Oct. 16 & 23; and Nov. 20 & 27.
All courses are held in the Patriot Café (Canteen) west side dining room at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center at 2 p.m. on the dates specified. Spouses and Caregivers may attend all sessions except the Taking Charge of My Life and Health group courses. Participants attending the Connected Care class are asked to bring their smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer for hands-on learning.