VA, VFW open ATLAS telehealth access in rural Pennsylvania

Partnership provides telehealth care to Veterans in rural areas


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VA opened a new ATLAS (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations) this month at VFW Post 7842 in Linesville, Pennsylvania.

This site gives Veterans associated with the Erie VA Medical Center the option to receive VA care closer to home in a setting that feels like a doctor’s office. It offers both the technology and privacy for Veterans to connect with their VA care team through a video visit.

ATLAS sites allow VA to provide services that do not require hands-on exams. Examples include counseling for mental health and nutrition, and selected primary care and social work visits. Establishing these points of care closer to Veterans’ homes allows for reducing obstacles and increasing attainability to care.

Access to care for Veterans in rural areas

“The ATLAS initiative is designed to provide convenient access to VA health care for Veterans living in rural areas, those with limited internet access and who don’t have a convenient location to connect with VA by video from their home” said VA Chief Officer of Connected Care, Neil Evans, M.D.

Veteran discusses medications with VA doctor at ATLAS site.

“Telehealth has long been a principal part of VA’s care delivery to Veterans, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

VA has established procedures at ATLAS sites to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These procedures are based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The site at VFW Post 7842 is also following local and state guidelines for prevention of COVID-19.

“By availing our VFW posts to create ATLAS sites, we provide a familiar, trusted resource for Veterans trying to navigate today’s health care system,” said VFW National Commander Harold “Hal” Roesch II. “We can provide communities the help they need during one of the most challenging health crises in our lifetime.”

The Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships has facilitated collaborations with Philips North America, The American Legion, VFW and Walmart to provide convenient locations with private appointment space for Veterans to receive care.

Meet with VA provider using VA Video Connect

Veterans meet with their VA providers at ATLAS sites through the VA Video Connect app, VA’s secure videoconferencing platform.

ATLAS is part of VA’s Anywhere to Anywhere initiative, which works to better serve the almost nine million Veterans who receive care through VA – no matter where they choose to live.

VA plans to expand the ATLAS initiative to more sites nationwide by 2023.

To learn more about ATLAS, visit VA’s Office of Connected Care.

Author

Hans Petersen

Hans Petersen is senior writer-editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.