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Veterans Air Health-Care Concerns at St. John Meeting

June 30, 2008 — Telemedicine will be a boon for veterans living on St. John who seek care from the Veterans' Affairs Department, Dr. Sandra Gracia said Monday.
"This is going to be especially good for you because you're far from us," said Gracia, chief of staff for the Veterans' Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan.
Gracia spoke Monday at a meeting on veterans' medical issues called by Delegate Donna M. Christensen. The Veterans' Affairs clinics on St. Thomas and St. Croix come under Puerto Rico's umbrella.
About 20 veterans attended the meeting at the Legislature.
While veterans will still have to go to St. Thomas to the Veterans' Affairs clinic for many services, medical staff will be able to monitor things like blood pressure while the veterans are home on St. John.
"You can have a cardiologist listen to your heart from a distance," Gracia said.
With mental health an issue for many veterans, Gracia said psychiatrists are treating patients using telemedicine.
A new facility will open on St. Thomas in October, said Nancy Reissener, director of the Caribbean Healthcare System. It will be located near Roy L. Schneider Hospital.
Jerry Runyon, commander of the Viggo E. Sewer American Legion Post on St. John, and others spoke about the difficulties they have in getting to the Veterans' Affairs clinic at Havensight.
"You have to catch the 6 a.m. ferry to make a 7:30 appointment," he said.
Taxi drivers will only drop him off at the entrance to Havensight Mall, Runyon said, not at the clinic about a block away at Buccaneer Mall, because they want to pick up tourists waiting for rides at busy Havensight Mall, adjacent to the cruise-ship dock.
Others spoke about getting to the clinic on St. Thomas only to find their appointments canceled. Additionally, several complained about the cost of getting to the St. Thomas facility from St. John.
However, Harry Daniel, assistant director at the local Veterans' Affairs office, said his office reimburses veterans for transportation costs. Veterans have to apply in person, but he is at the Battery on St. John from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Friday to handle this and other matters, Daniel said.
When Daniel spoke about the need to find shelter for homeless veterans, Gracia said Veterans' Affairs was working on a foster-care program for veterans.
Veterans would be more receptive to receiving care if it was available on St. John, said resident Elmo Rabsatt.
While the St. Thomas clinic gets good marks for courtesy and coordination, it falls down when it comes to communicating with veterans, said Axel Roman, a patient advocate at the Puerto Rico facility.
"We will look for ways to keep you informed," he said.
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June 30, 2008 -- Telemedicine will be a boon for veterans living on St. John who seek care from the Veterans' Affairs Department, Dr. Sandra Gracia said Monday.
"This is going to be especially good for you because you're far from us," said Gracia, chief of staff for the Veterans' Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan.
Gracia spoke Monday at a meeting on veterans' medical issues called by Delegate Donna M. Christensen. The Veterans' Affairs clinics on St. Thomas and St. Croix come under Puerto Rico's umbrella.
About 20 veterans attended the meeting at the Legislature.
While veterans will still have to go to St. Thomas to the Veterans' Affairs clinic for many services, medical staff will be able to monitor things like blood pressure while the veterans are home on St. John.
"You can have a cardiologist listen to your heart from a distance," Gracia said.
With mental health an issue for many veterans, Gracia said psychiatrists are treating patients using telemedicine.
A new facility will open on St. Thomas in October, said Nancy Reissener, director of the Caribbean Healthcare System. It will be located near Roy L. Schneider Hospital.
Jerry Runyon, commander of the Viggo E. Sewer American Legion Post on St. John, and others spoke about the difficulties they have in getting to the Veterans' Affairs clinic at Havensight.
"You have to catch the 6 a.m. ferry to make a 7:30 appointment," he said.
Taxi drivers will only drop him off at the entrance to Havensight Mall, Runyon said, not at the clinic about a block away at Buccaneer Mall, because they want to pick up tourists waiting for rides at busy Havensight Mall, adjacent to the cruise-ship dock.
Others spoke about getting to the clinic on St. Thomas only to find their appointments canceled. Additionally, several complained about the cost of getting to the St. Thomas facility from St. John.
However, Harry Daniel, assistant director at the local Veterans' Affairs office, said his office reimburses veterans for transportation costs. Veterans have to apply in person, but he is at the Battery on St. John from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Friday to handle this and other matters, Daniel said.
When Daniel spoke about the need to find shelter for homeless veterans, Gracia said Veterans' Affairs was working on a foster-care program for veterans.
Veterans would be more receptive to receiving care if it was available on St. John, said resident Elmo Rabsatt.
While the St. Thomas clinic gets good marks for courtesy and coordination, it falls down when it comes to communicating with veterans, said Axel Roman, a patient advocate at the Puerto Rico facility.
"We will look for ways to keep you informed," he said.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.