BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — With concerns over COVID-19 across the nation telehealth became a go to source for care. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced an increase in telehealth appointments of more than 1000-percent.
The Beckley VA Medical Center (VAMC) reports more than 780 such appointments were held from March 1 to July 2020. That is an increase of 796-percent. Here is a breakdown of the surge in different departments:
- Mental Health – 390-percent increase
- Primary Care – 1,912-percent increase
- Specialty Care – 5,900-percent increase
The VA used VA Video Connect to conduct the virtual appointments. It allows veterans to meet virtually with their caregivers on any computer, table or mobile device with an internet connection.
“The telehealth alternative to in-office visits during the COVID-19 pandemic has made a tremendous difference in Don’s physical therapy progress,” said Willa Hellison, wife of veteran Don Ellison. “It gave him the opportunity to continue treatment during this difficult time. He progressed enough to be able to go fishing with our sons on two occasions and actually walk to the lake. His emotional outlook has improved with his ability to walk with less pain in his knees and legs. Telehealth appointments have been great for our situation.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs is also taking strides to bridge the digital divide for Veterans who lack the technology or broadband internet connectivity required to participate in VA telehealth services. At the national level, VA is working with strategic partners, through the VA Secretary’s Center of Strategic Partnerships, to increase access to the technology that Veterans need to connect with their VA health care team virtually.