VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH) recently announced the approval of funds for a new TeleMental Health Hosting Facility at the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VCB).
“We are very excited to learn the news that Valley Coastal Bend (VCB) would be one of the recipients of these funds because it will allow our health care system to develop, expand and sustain care of our TeleMental Health Hosting Facility, which in turn will better serve our rural Veterans” said Homero S. Martinez III, the director for VCB.
Since fiscal year (FY) 2002, VA has provided Veterans with access to mental health services through more than 2,749,000 TeleMental Health encounters. TeleMental Health is defined as the use of information and telecommunication technologies to deliver mental health services when the provider and the Veteran are separated by geographical distance. Given improved access to mental health treatment, admissions to acute psychiatric beds in the VA for new patients receiving Clinical Video TeleMental Health decreased by 31%, and Bed Days of Care decreased by 34% in FY 2017.
The Nationally Designated Clinical Resource Hub (ND-CRH) for the Veteran Integrated Service Network 17 (VISN17) received official notification for the commitment of funds earlier this year in May, which will support the program for two fiscal years, with a plan to make it sustainable into the future if it sees success.
According to an official VA memo the TeleMental Health Hosting Facility at VCB is scheduled to receive a grand total of more than $9.8 million over the course of Fiscal years 2020 and 2021. More than $5.1 million has been allocated to go towards expansion, while VISN 17 is scheduled to contribute more $4.6 million of that total.
Congress established the VHA Office of Rural Health (ORH) in 2006 to conduct, coordinate, promote and disseminate research on issues that affect the nearly five million Veterans who reside in rural communities.
ORH fulfills its mission by supporting targeted research, developing innovative programs and identifying new care models.
To learn more about VA TeleMental Health, please click on the link or image below to view and listen to video featuring VA psychologists Dr. Jina Jensen and Dr. Megahn Von Linden.