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), led by grantee SC Office of Rural Health, partners with Rural Community Providers who care for Veteran patients to; 1) Develop and implement a plan for practice-wide Veteran patient identification, 2) Screen all Veteran patients annually for PTSD, 3) and Refer Veteran patients for Home-Based Telemental Health (HBTMH) assessment and treatment for PTSD through the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center (RHJ VAMC) team in Charleston.

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.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy eligibility.  Determine your practice’s eligibility with this mapping tool https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/am-i-ruralor contact Stacey Halford at stacey@scorh.net.

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.

What’s the time commitment for providers?  Providers complete just one teleconference that is an hour long, scheduled when providers are available to participate individually or as a group, depending on provider preference.  The patient referral process into HBTMH part of the project will align with your usual referral processes.  See below for a brief overview of how the project works.

  1. Provider or Practice Administrator contacts Stacey Day Halford to learn more about the project and provider/practice eligibility is determined.
  2. Designee of the practice signs a Letter of Agreement (LOA).
  3. SC RHAVR Toolkit of orientation materials is emailed/mailed to the provider.
  4. The provider schedules the teleconference directly with the RHJ VAMC team.
  5. Providers track monthly PTSD screens conducted with Veteran Patients and refer as appropriate into the RHJ VAMC HBTMH program for assessment and treatment.
  6. Referred patients are contacted by the VA team and receive HBTMH assessment and treatment, typically 8-12 weekly sessions conducted in their home.
  7. Patients who lack a good internet connection are loaned a 4G enabled tablet by the RHJ VAMC for treatment purposes for the duration of treatment.
  8. Per HIPAA guidelines and patient consent, Rural Providers are updated on patients’ treatment acceptance, decline of treatment, treatment completion, and other relevant statuses after referral into HBTMH.

Please check-out this brief video, where a Veteran/Farmer from Manning talks about his experience with the RHJ VAMC’s Home-Based Telemental Health service.  Through this project, your patients can access this same treatment.      *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