Auburn Community Hospital has renewed its contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs for another five years. The contract, which was signed in July, allows the hospital to continue providing health care and specialty referral services to more than 1,400 veterans in and around Cayuga County through its VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
"What's new are two different components," Richard Kazel, with the Syracuse VA Medical Center, said. "We have a telemental health that's been in place for a long time, but we've added now Telehealth, which is going to be a tremendous enhancement, being that veterans will not have to travel to Syracuse for a number of clinical specialties.
Kazel says in many cases, Telehealth services are as good as an in-person visit.
At an event marking the contract renewal, the hospital demonstrated its new Telehealth capabilities, which will allow veterans to be seen by their health care providers through a real-time video link.
Patricia Hirsh, nurse manager of the VA clinic, says the new technology is making health care more convenient and comprehensive, while saving patients time and money.
"It's all about enhanced care and improving the quality of care that our veterans are receiving," Hirsh said. "It's advanced care, it's enhanced, we have registered nurses now that are doing case management, so they're really focusing on the veteran and their overall health condition. So it is definitely a wonderful thing to have for our community.
Kazel says the new technology will expand in the coming months.
"Everything and anything is possible through this medium," Kazel said. "As we continue to learn from it, the technology will continue to grow, as well. So down the road we're looking at some improvements in terms of the clinical architecture that is available."
The new contract will allow Auburn Community Hospital to continue operating its VA outpatient clinic through 2018.