New VA program offers veterans in-home health care

FORMS: Nate Peterson, telehealth clinical technician, (right) answers questions about the VA enrollment form as Hap Blick (left) applies for the program. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

FORMS: Nate Peterson, telehealth clinical technician, (right) answers questions about the VA enrollment form as Hap Blick (left) applies for the program. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

MECOSTA COUNTY – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Home Based Primary Care Northern Rural Expansion team enrolled interested veterans at the Morley American Legion on Tuesday.

The home-based program serves veterans in Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, Lake and Mason counties.

“We are coming to them because this is such a rural area,” said Kim Langelier, VA HBPC occupational therapist. “It’s far from the main hospital and it’s also far from outpatient clinics.”

As a home-based program, veterans do not need to worry about traveling to appointments.

“We can provide the small clinical stuff,” Langelier said. “It saves them from having to drive in the winter. The goal is to keep people at home, keep them safe, out of the hospital and independent.”

The purpose of the open enrollment event is to get veterans signed up for the service.

“Sometimes people are new to the VA and have never used VA services before,” Langelier said. “We can get them enrolled in the program. They still have to go to the clinics for certain things. We don’t do anything vision or hearing related, dental or surgeries.”

Hap Blick, of Stanwood, and Ace VanSickle, of Big Rapids, both Vietnam veterans, applied for VA benefits for the first time at the event.

“I’m just looking for some help,” Blick said. “I’m here to see if they can help me with the expense of some of my medications or anything like that.”

VanSickle attended for the same purpose and picked an application up for his brother, who also is a veteran.

“He is disabled and uses an electric wheelchair and he served longer than we did,” VanSickle said, pointing to Blick and himself. “If they could help him out at all, that would be great.”

VA HBPC is a newer program.

“According to our manager, it’s the first program like this in the country,” Langelier said. “It’s cheaper for the VA to have a program like this rather than have a building that they have to pay utilities for.”

So far, the VA HBPC team has received positive results.

“(Patients) just love it,” Langelier said. “We had someone tell us today that he didn’t have a reason to get up and breathe every day. Now that we are coming in, he feels like we care about him and see what he is talking about.”

The next open enrollment event for the VA HBPC program will be held from noon until 4 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Morley American Legion, located at 2560 Northland Drive in Morley.

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Posted by Miranda Roberts

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