VA recently announced curing more than 100,000 Veterans of chronic hepatitis C virus infection, or HCV. HCV infection can lead to advanced liver disease (ALD), liver cancer and early death. Curing HCV with new, advanced therapies can halt progression of ALD, cutting death rates by up to 50%.
Some of the career professionals make VA a global leader in HCV diagnosis and treatment in the March to Cure 100,000 Veterans campaign.
Hepatology pharmacist Long Do is one of those professionals. His innovative outreach and treatment services provides a huge impact at the VA Portland Health Care System in Oregon.
Simple innovations with huge results
Do and others in this field take extra steps to find Veterans most at risk and bring them in for care.
As a member of VA Portland’s Hepatitis Innovation Team, Do recommended including hepatitis C treatment flyers in all prescription bags at the VA Portland pharmacy. This simple innovation significantly increased testing and treatment rates. But Do didn’t stop there.
“Not only do we target Veterans within our catchment area, but we also reach out to Veterans who are either homeless, lost to follow up or who live in remote areas — even if they are not within our catchment area,” he said.
He credits VA leadership and fellow team members for encouraging inventive outreach and out-of-the-box thinking.
“The culture of excellence, and quality care offered at VA, goes beyond most people’s expectations,” he said. “The heartfelt gratitude of the Veterans and the strong sense of community make for a truly rewarding career.”
Step-by-step reductions on the march to cure 100,000
The March to Cure 100,000 Veterans is also supported by VA nurses like Dana Smothers, the Hepatology Nurse Care Coordinator at VA Portland. Smothers coordinates hepatology transplant referrals, manages the national registry that links Veterans to advanced liver disease care, and conducts population health outreach for Veterans at risk of HCV.
She’s seen firsthand how these actions contributed to a steady decrease in the number of Veterans with hepatitis C.
“VA is so far ahead of private health care systems on hepatitis C treatment and innovation in care delivery, and also in treating advanced liver disease,” she said.
A rewarding career
Do and Smothers represent an even broader national team of VA career professionals. They are working to locate and treat the estimated remaining 25,000 Veterans with HCV.
Medical professionals interested in this rewarding mission should take a closer look at VA. VA careers offer competitive pay, generous benefits and ample leave. With one active license, professionals can work at locations across the United States and the territories, serving the Veterans who count on quality care after military service.
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