Houston VA wants to expand access to care – Chron.com



The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston is one of the largest in the country, supporting about 114,000 patients and providing about 3,000 outpatient appointments a day at the downtown campus.

“If you haven’t been to the VA in many years, come see all our services and new facilities. Certainly, with new operating rooms, new urology and dermatology clinics, virtual care, and additional mental health staffing, the VA is not a dinosaur; we are the cutting edge.”

Primary care, specialty clinics

In addition to basic health, veterans can access specialty services such as cardiology, oncology, prosthetics, physical therapy, audiology, ophthalmology and more. The VA Medical Center is known for its Spinal Cord Injury Center, which serves veterans from around the country. A pain clinic helps veterans with headaches and other chronic conditions, supported with referrals to community providers for chiropractic, acupuncture and other forms of alternative health. Another new offering is a post-deployment clinic just for veterans recently discharged. Veterans Affairs hospitals share records, offering consistency of information no matter the location a veteran visits.


Improved access

In addition to the downtown campus, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has nine community-based clinic sites in Beaumont, Lufkin, Conroe, Galveston, Texas City, Katy, Lake Jackson, Richmond and Tomball. Dyman said about 60% of patients choose to get their primary care in one of these clinics rather than downtown. The VA is also using telehealth to make accessing physical and mental health services easier and more convenient.

“Our VA in Houston is one of leaders among VAs for telehealth, which allows vets to access care through a smartphone, tablet or computer,” Dyman said. “We can use it for mental health appointments but also for dermatology and other needs. It’s another way to break down the barriers for veterans and serve as many as we can.”

Located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is positioned to attract top-level physicians and providers, Dyman said. The center is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine, with many of the providers serving as faculty.

Women’s health focus

In the past five years, the number of female veterans seeking care has more than doubled, Dyman said. Women represent the fastest-growing population among patients, a trend the center anticipates will continue. To tailor services to women, the center opened a Women’s Health Center with a separate entrance. The clinic offers primary care, but also 3D mammography, Ob-Gyn services, fertility evaluations and more. Dyman said the center is currently caring for about 200 pregnant women.


Veterans also can find programs, classes and tools to improve their health with wrap-around services such as weight-loss programs, smoking-cessation classes and recreation therapy.

Mental health

The center recently opened a new mental health building at the downtown campus and hired more than 100 front-line mental health providers. These new providers ensure that veterans can get same-day service for urgent mental health issues directly. Additionally, the center offers support groups, parenting classes, marriage counseling and peer support.

For the Veterans Crisis Line, call 800-273-8255, and press 1.

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