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SVAHCS: telehealth a growing option

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For many veterans living in a city that hosts a VA medical center access to the medical and mental health care they require may be as easy as walking down the street. But in rural Wyoming, access for veterans who live in smaller communities could mean a long drive with a stay at a hotel just to be seen by a doctor. That’s only one problem telehealth services have helped to solve. 

Many VAs in the nation have offered telehealth long before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2013 more than 600,000 veterans utilized telehealth. The Sheridan VA Health Care System offers a wide range of health and support services for veterans in facilities across three quarters of Wyoming.

According to RN and Sheridan VA telehealth lead Janell Porter, the Sheridan VA providers provide services using telehealth to patients at one or more of the VA outpatient clinic locations found throughout Wyoming. The Sheridan VA has outpatient clinics in Gillette, Casper, Cody, Rock Springs, Riverton, Evanston and Worland.

Some veterans have been reluctant to embrace telehealth. While appearing on Sheridan Media’s Public pulse program, Porter cited one reason she has learned as to why some vets may not be jumping on the telehealth bandwagon. 

J. Porter 

But to those who have embraced the new technology, it allows the veteran to visit with specialists while saving the time and resources needed for a face-to-face visit. It has allowed some veterans to continue Post Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy with a preferred therapist who may have relocated. 

Many medical services are offered through telehealth including but not limited to: 

Tele-dermatology: Sheridan Telehealth Technicians take images of the concerning skin condition and then store and send the images to Oklahoma City, OK, providers who will evaluate the images and provide care recommendations.

Tele-eye imaging for diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma: Sheridan telehealth clinical technicians take eye images and store and send the images to ophthalmologists and optometrists at the Cheyenne VA who evaluate the images and make recommendations.

Audiology/VISN 19 AMTAS pilot project: patient will complete an audiometry exam (hearing test); the exam report is sent to an audiologist in Sheridan, Denver, CO. or Salt Lake City, UT.

Sleep: sleep studies will be done at the main campus with a sleep technician and will be read by providers in VISN 20.

EEG: studies will be done in Sheridan at the main campus and will be read by providers in Portland, OR.

To overcome the apprehensiveness, Porter simply asks veterans to give telehealth a chance to provide the services the veterans require and have earned. Staff are on hand to assist veterans with any technology the veteran does not feel comfortable with. 

To learn more about the Sheridan VA Health Care System services, click here.

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