BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Mena’s Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) will soon change its location to better serve veterans in the community. The current clinic is on Highway 71 in Mena, but will move to South Morrow Street, next to the Post Office. The decision to move was made, in part, to implement more services and the PACT (Patient Aligned Care Team) model, in which each veteran has a team that provides primary care services, and helps coordinate services for specialty care when needed.
Acting Chief of Staff, Dr. John Theus, who is based in Little Rock explained that currently, the local office is run by an independent contractor, and therefore, use their own model of patient care. In the new clinic, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) will have oversight of the employees and the practices they use. “Throughout the VA system, there is a combination of both VA’s and contracting groups. We would like to make an effort to make all of our clinics VA run,” Theus explained. “It gives us a better control over operations, and a lot of times there are tax savings for taxpayers. It also allows us to control employee work environment, compensation for the employees, and engagement with both veteran patients, as well as the community,” he added.
The new 10,000 square foot facility is being constructed by an independent contractor, SI Construction, as the building is owned by a third party. The VA will lease the building once construction is complete. They hope to make the move by Spring 2017.
Theus also explained that facilities and services are based on the need of the patients in the community. The implementation of PACT is hoped to make a large impact on how veterans receive care. According to their website, PACT is “the cornerstone of the New Models of Care initiative that is intended to transform the way Veterans receive care. PACT assists VHA in transforming Veterans’ care by providing patient-driven, proactive, personalized, team-based care focused on wellness and disease prevention. This results in improvements in Veteran satisfaction, improved healthcare outcomes, and costs. The PACT model is built on the well-known concept of the patient-centered medical home staffed by high-functioning teams.” They also plan to implement more tele-medicine methods at the new facility as well.
As construction completion dates get closer, the administration will focus on specific programs that will exist at the facility. “If there is a need in the community, we try to provide the services required,” said Theus.
Employment opportunities will also present themselves as the time draws near. “We are an equal opportunity employer and positions will become available. The bottom line is, we want the very best staff there to make sure our veterans are taken care of.”
Mena’s facility also keeps locals from traveling so far out of the area to receive services. The nearest CBOC’s are Conway, El Dorado, Hot Springs, Mountain Home, Pine Bluff, Russellville, and Searcy. Although they try to keep veterans at clinics within their geographical area, no veteran is denied treatment at any of their facilities. Two large hospitals are located in Little Rock and North Little Rock where veterans receive services.
Christopher Durney, Public Affairs Specialist for Central Arkansas Veterans Health System, said that they are still in the very early stages of development and more details will be released as progress develops. He also wants veterans to make sure they are receiving all their benefits. “We encourage veterans to check with veteran’s benefit programs to make sure they are getting all the benefits they are allowed.” To learn more, http://www.littlerock.va.gov/.