Female Veterans/The Veterans Administration/One Woman’s Opinion
By – Sheri de Grom
Is it a pipe dream or a reality that VA women’s health care is more proactive in some areas of care than the private sector?
Efforts have been made to integrate women’s healthcare into its own department at the VA. This approach allows the veteran to get comprehensive and integrated care from a team. All providers would have access to the Veterans’ records and in an ideal setting, can collaborate with each other.
In fiscal year 2014, 88 percent of VA female patients received cervical cancer screenings versus 74-76 percent of patients in the private sector. Only 60% of Medicare patients were screened.
Eighty-six percent of VA patients received mammograms when recommended compared to 69-74 percent in the private sector.
The number of women Veterans using The Veterans Health Administration care has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 500,000 today.
Comprehensive health services available to women Veterans today include primary, specialty, hospice/palliative, mental health, infertility, gynecology and maternity care services including 7 days of newborn care.
Pain management is being added to some Women’s Health Care Programs and hopefully it will be nationwide soon.
The Phoenix VA has recently started an eight-week mindfulness-based group training program for pain management that is specifically tailored to the needs of women Veterans. Women receive a 90-minute orientation that covers the differences between acute and chronic pain, validates the many adverse impacts of chronic pain on women’s lives, and provides education on mindfulness as a vehicle for improving function and quality of life despite pain. The “Breathe, I’ll Be OK” program is based on years of clinical research and practice regarding chronic pain, mindfulness-based approaches for chronic pain, and women’s health. It includes a focus on social relationships and unit support, as well as stretching, movement, self-pacing, control and acceptance.
I’m impressed with the progress The Veteran’s Health Administration has made with their Women’s Program. They have a million miles or more to go, but for now, it’s progress.
If you or someone you love needs help getting access to VA health care, contact the Women’s Veterans Call Center at 855-VA-WOMEN – it was created to provide women Veterans access to services for which they may be eligible and is staffed exclusively by women.
Again, thank you for reading with me and for your concern for our Veterans. They continue to play an integral part in our nation’s defense.