North Florida/South Georgia VA has made improvements to cognitive screening for Veteran patients with symptoms of cognitive deficits.
The multidisciplinary approach’s aim is to assist with diagnosis and early access to resources, medication, treatment and decision making. This allows for life planning and involvement in health care decisions.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, early diagnosis can improve the overall outcome of disease progression and allows for treatment of reversible types of dementia while improving quality of life for others.
Once symptoms are recognized, clinical staff can perform the screening to capture these patients early in the disease process.
Screening quick, easy to administer and reliable
Nurse Jocelyn Almazan explains that not only is the improvement to screening quick, easy to administer and reliable, it is also a cost savings for those diagnosed with cognitive decline. “The new screening has shown to improve patient outcomes without significantly increasing workload,” she said. “It has resulted in the decrease in treatment cost for patients.”
Prior to the new screening process, health care providers utilized the Saint Louis University Mental Screen.
Nurse Gladys Fontanez adds that, “When a screening is warranted, a review is conducted and entered in for a consult by social work. At that point, further examination may be conducted, and based on the score, the provider may follow up with recommendations.”
Excited about new screening’s benefits
The new screening was originally piloted by nurses at The Villages Outpatient Clinic, which resulted in Veterans being referred to neuropsychologists and diagnosed with some form of dementia.
“We are really excited about the new screening and are seeing its benefits firsthand,” said Almazan.
Veterans who have concerns of cognitive decline are encouraged to discuss the opportunity to be screened with their health care provider.
The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 5,800 medical professionals and support staff. Those individuals are dedicated to providing high quality care to Veterans residing throughout North Florida and South Georgia. The organization operates 14 facilities, including two medical centers located in Gainesville and Lake City. It also operates a domiciliary and clinics located throughout a 50-county service area.