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“He [Veteran] described our VA building as being part of his treatment.”
What Both Providers and Veterans Appreciate and Miss about VA Care During Pandemic
In response to COVID-19, our mental health clinic, like many others across VA, moved appointments to telehealth or telephone to allow Veterans to stay at home and still receive VA care. As a provider, I was relieved that I had previous experience with VA Video Connect and telehealth appointments, yet I was anxious about the transition. In adjusting to changes during these unusual and stressful times, what has impressed me most has been the grace with which all have handled these changes – the Veterans to whom I provide care have handled the changes gracefully, fellow providers have helped each other figure out technology challenges, and our clinic and facility leadership have been supportive and provided needed information along with timely updates. The hardest part, both for me and from what Veterans have shared with me, is the loss of the sense of camaraderie felt when you’re at our facility. One Veteran shared with me that while he appreciates that we can continue treatment and it is helpful, he misses getting his coffee, visiting with other Veterans at the welcome desk, and sharing stories in the travel office. He described our VA building as being part of his treatment. I know we all look forward to returning to that social aspect of VA in the future.
Sara Landes, PhD
Associate Director, QUERI for Team-Based Behavioral Health
Psychologist, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System