Rural Veterans Health Initiatives

SCORH is dedicated to finding ways to ensure that all rural South Carolina Veterans have access to the quality health care they need and deserve.

Although South Carolina is a small state, we rank seventh in the nation for our Veteran to Civilian population, with 417,515 Veterans living in the state per 2015 Census Data projections. Approximately 75,000 Veterans currently seeking health care at either the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston or the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia are from rural or highly rural areas (per the VA’s Rural Health Resource Center). We know that in addition to the traditional challenges of long distances and lack of transportation faced by rural residents, rural Veterans also face barriers in seeking health care related to a lack of awareness of available resources and even stigma. SCORH’s team of dedicated health care professionals seeks to support rural Veterans through addressing the local health care delivery system in rural areas. By engaging and supporting rural providers in identifying and caring specifically for their Veteran patient populations, more pathways to care are made possible, helping to ensure Veterans are able to access the care they need.

Services Provided:
Our goal is to help rural, non-VA health care providers better understand the needs of and ultimately deliver more appropriate care for their Veteran patients. We know that this is challenging for many providers and so we have assembled a wide variety of educational resources and tools to facilitate necessary practice changes, including closely aligning our Veterans’ care support with our Center for Practice Transformation team. In addition, the following specialized services are available to rural providers:

  • Support for Non-VA Providers Interested in Joining the Veterans Choice Program
  • Connection to State and National Experts in Veterans Health Care Issues
  • Technical Assistance with Identifying Veterans in Patient Populations
  • Provider Training on Veterans Issues with Peer to Peer Consultative Support
  • Veteran Behavioral Health Care Expertise
  • For Eligible Providers Treating Veterans with PTSD or PTSD and TBI:
    • Teleconsultation with providers from the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston
    • Telehealth Treatment Referral and Coordination via the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston
More Information
SC Rural Access to Veterans Health Resources (SC RAVHR) – Connecting Rural Primary Care Provider and Veteran Patients with Homebased Telemental Healthcare for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Veterans make up more than 10% of the adult population in South Carolina, and more than 10% of all private businesses in SC are Veteran-owned. More than one third of SC’s total Veteran population is rural. Rural Veterans are more likely to be sicker and die younger than their urban counterparts.  The SC Rural Access to Veterans Health Resources (SC RAVHR), a program of the SC Office of Rural Health, prepares Rural Community Primary and Behavioral health care clinicians to be culturally competent in work with their Veteran and Service Member patients.  Through SC RAVHR, Veteran patients across rural SC receive primary care based screening for PTSD and homebased telemental health referral and treatment.

Through SCRAVHR, Rural Community Providers 1) develop and implement a plan for Veteran patient identification, 2) screen all Veteran patients for PTSD, 3) and facilitate care coordination and referral of their Veteran patients into homebased telemental healthcare delivered by the Ralph H. Johnson (Charleston VA) Medical Center.

Am I eligible to participate?

  • Primary care and Behavioral Health Care providers in outpatient primary care settings are eligible. Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Physicians, and Behavioral Healthcare Providers (Psychiatrists, Behavioral healthcare clinicians, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Independent Social Workers, and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners) are eligible to participate.
  • Veteran Choice Program Enrolled. At least one participating provider per practice will be Veterans Choice enrolled, though additional non-VCP providers per practice may also participate.
  • Federal Office of Health Policy designation as Rural. Check the “Am I Rural?” https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/am-i-ruralto see if you are eligible or contact Ms. Stacey Halford for more information.

How do I determine who my Veteran patients are? One of the key goals of the project is to help you implement a system to identify your Veteran patients, which will help inform the care you provide them. We can help with that.

Do I have to be a Veterans Choice Program (VCP) Provider to participate? Yes, though non-VCP providers from a practice with one identified VCP project participant are also eligible to participate.

What’s the time commitment for providers? Providers complete three brief teleconferences, about 30 minutes in length, scheduled when providers are available. The patient referral process into the homebased telemental health part of the project will align with your usual referral processes.

How Does It Work?

  1. Veterans Choice Provider contacts Stacey Day Halford to learn more about the project.
  2. SC RHAVR Toolkit of orientation materials is emailed/mailed to the provider.
  3. Designee of the practice signs a Letter of Agreement (LOA).
  4. The VCP provider schedules directly with Project Clinical Lead, Dr. Anna Birks, for a series of three brief
  5. Providers screen their Veteran Patients for PTSD and refer as appropriate into the Charleston VA’s Homebased Telemental Health program for assessment and treatment.
  6. Referred patients are contacted by the VA team and receive homebased telemental health assessment and treatment, typically 8-12 weekly sessions.
  7. A Veteran/Farmer from Manning talks about his experience with the Charleston VA Medical Center’s Homebased Telemental Health service in this video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9EXMAfko7c  (Video courtesy of the SC Telehealth Alliance and SCETV)   

Contact Stacey Day Halford for more information, at 803-454-3850 or stacey@scorh.net

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $298,794. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

RESOURCES

National

State-wide

Resources for Providers about Veterans Choice Program

Program Contact


Stacey Day Halford, MSW, LMSW