Central Texas Veterans Health Care System

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Veterans Transportation Services

New National Rural Veterans Transportation Pilot Program sponsored by the VA Veterans Transportation Service (VTS)

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CTVHCS Director Thomas Smith (center) accepts a key from Veterans Transportation Service Director David Riley (left) and VTS Project Manager Paul Perry (right) to start a new national rural transportation program at the Temple VA.

Thanks to a new pilot program, Veterans in need of transportation in the Central Texas area now have of new source for getting to their medical appointments at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.   On Sept. 17, the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System hosted “The Launch” of this new national rural transportation program at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center in Temple, Texas.  Temple Mayor Bill Jones and VA Veterans Transportation Service Director David Riley were featured guests at the ceremony.  “It’s appropriate that Temple was selected to launch this new program because of its dedication to serving Veterans in a way that is unequal,” said Temple Mayor Bill Jones.

 

“This is the start of something great,” said Thomas Smith, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. “Our goal is to help Veterans get to our medical facilities in state-of-the-art vehicles for the health care they have earned and deserve, from their doorsteps to our and back again. It’s what I call patient-centered service.”

 

The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System is one of four pilot sites across the nation selected to participate in the new national rural Veterans transportation pilot program sponsored by the VA Veterans Transportation Service (VTS). This new service will use staff and volunteers to provide transportation to the Olin E. Teague Veterans Health Care Center in Temple for Veterans who have had trouble traveling to the medical center for the medical care.  The program is geared primarily to Veterans living in rural areas, women Veterans and disabled Veterans.

 

The initial route for Central Texas will cover Bell and Coryell counties along State Highway 36, expanding to all 39 counties the system serves as vehicles and personnel become available.  Central Texas Veterans Health Care System has taken the lead for the program nationally with its VTS quick card being selected as a best practice.

 

The Central Texas service put together a committee to implement the beginning of the service with representatives from Medical Administration Service (MAS), Engineering, Voluntary Services, Social Work Service, System Analysis Management Service (SAMS), and Clinical Support Service. The committee has met once a week since February 2010 and has developed a proof concept, VTS cost and efficiency matrix and utilization matrix that have been accepted by Headquarters.

  • Social Work Service defined the policy and guidelines for Veteran participation including eligibility and exclusions as well as helped develop routes.
  • Medical Administration Service drafted the eligibility criteria and established a list of targeted Veterans based on location, appointment history and various demographics.  MAS staff called all of the Veterans on the list to ask if they would use the transportation on the trial dates. Transportation assistants, soon to be hired, will gather other information to be used in scheduling, coordinating with Veterans’ escorts and other functions.
  • Engineering Service helped determined the shuttle’s route and select the stops and the hiring of three drivers for the program.
  • Voluntary Service developed policies for screening prospective drivers, both paid and volunteer, and continues to monitor competency of volunteers transporting Veterans.
  • Clinical Support Service developed a customer service satisfaction survey and planned customer service training.
  • Systems Analysis Management condensed data detailing the Veteran population for different routes to aid in developing the most efficient and effective routes to service Veterans.

Two shuttles have been ordered, each of which can accommodate 24 passengers or 18 passengers and two in wheelchairs. When the Central Texas VTS is fully operational, it is expected to serve more than 21,000 Veterans.

 

The three other VA pilots sites selected to participate in the new VTS program are Ann Arbor, Michigan; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Muskogee, Oklahoma.