Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
15:37 PM

LVHN, VA Agreement Expands Veterans Choice Program


Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that expands care in the network for patients under the Veterans Choice Program to the health network’s inpatient hospital campuses and many Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG) practices. The agreement took effect in January 2017.

Under the agreement, the VA recognizes LVHN as a Veterans Choice Program provider to offer the full continuum of health services in partnership with the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). LVHN will provide private sector care when patients cannot be accommodated by the VA due to: lack of available medical specialists; extended wait times for appointments at a VAMC; or, extraordinary distance from the veteran’s home.

“We continue to build on LVHN’s long-time commitment to providing military men and women and their families the best possible access, care and quality outcomes,” said Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP. “More than 50,000 veterans live in the greater Lehigh Valley, yet too many go unnoticed in today’s health care environment. We are committed to improving care for veterans including a focus on educating physicians and other clinical staff to recognize and understand veterans’ unique needs.”

Nester said in 2012, LVHN charted a formal network-wide Patient-Centered Experience initiative around improving services for veterans. He cited increased awareness of the unique cultural experiences and medical needs of military men and women, including post-traumatic stress symptoms that might go unrecognized in health care settings designed to treat the needs of the general population. Nester said LVHN also has begun providing referral coordination and navigation for veterans with complex medical and social needs through an on-site veteran health liaison.

Additionally, in October 2013 following a year-long regional study with the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council (LVMAC), all area hospitals took the critical step of screening patients to capture their veteran status in their electronic medical record.

“Asking this question has allowed our clinicians to go at least one step further to ask about military service, deployments and experiences that could better tailor the care to the veterans specific needs,” Nester said.