The Craig Veterans TeleHealth Clinic, 785 Russell Street, will be hosting an open house from 2 – 4 p.m. Thursday. The event will provide an opportunity for local veterans and their families to learn about VA health care programs and the services provided by the TeleHealth Clinic.

Photo by Joe Moylan

The Craig Veterans TeleHealth Clinic, 785 Russell Street, will be hosting an open house from 2 – 4 p.m. Thursday. The event will provide an opportunity for local veterans and their families to learn about VA health care programs and the services provided by the TeleHealth Clinic.

VA TeleHealth Clinic in Craig to host Thursday open house

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If you go …

What: The Craig Veterans TeleHealth Clinic open house

When: 2 to 4 p.m., Thursday

Where: 785 Russell Street

— The event is open to veterans, their families and anyone interested in the TeleHealth system.

The Craig Veterans TeleHealth Clinic, 785 Russell St., will host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Paul Sweeney, chief of customer relations for the VA Medical Center in Grand Junction, said the event is intended to not only inform local veterans of the services available, but to also boost patient numbers.

“We’re losing our World War II veterans at a rapid rate, and our Vietnam veterans are not enrolling in the program like they should,” Sweeney said. “This open house is another way to open up our doors, let people know we’re there and to try to get vets to come in and see us, and show them this is a viable health care plan.”

Sweeney said the VA Medical Clinic needs to add 1,300 patients in its district to maintain current operating levels.

The Medical Clinic’s district encompasses 15 west and northwest Colorado counties, including Moffat County, and half of Carbon County in Wyoming.

Based off of Moffat County’s population density alone, Sweeney said he is confident there are more than enough veterans in the district to maintain the clinic’s current level of health care.

“According to most recent census, nine-percent of Craig residents are veterans,” Sweeney said. “We know there are 300 to 600 veterans in Craig that are eligible for care.”

Sweeney said veterans do not enroll in VA health care programs for a variety of reasons ranging from distrust of the government to not knowing enrollment requirements.

Sweeney hopes the open house will at least remedy one of those concerns and provide veterans with the information they need to obtain the quality health care they deserve.

Sweeney said the Craig TeleHealth Clinic provides health care for veterans by utilizing a variety of unique technologies.

Unlike the VA Medical Clinic in Grand Junction, a doctor does not physically examine patients visiting the TeleHealth Clinic. Although there are nurses staffed in Craig, a doctor or specialist conducts the examination from Grand Junction through real time images sent over an encrypted phone line.

“It does take some getting used to, a lot of patients liken it to seeing their doctor through a window, but it’s much more than just a place with a lot of machines,” Sweeney said. “The technology allows us to put a clinic into a community like Craig where we wouldn’t be able to put a full-fledged community based outreach clinic.”

Sweeney said the instruments manipulated by the in-house nurses are also technologically advanced.

For example, the stethoscope is tunable, which allows the doctor to focus in on the heart, lungs, stomach or any other internal body part they want to hear.

In addition, images from an otoscope, or the scope used to examine a patient’s eyes, ears, nose and throat, are viewed by the doctor on a high definition television screen.

“In some ways, it’s actually better than a regular exam because the doctor is seeing everything huge,” Sweeney said. “So, they’re not trying to figure out what they’re looking at.”

Although there will not be a demonstration of TeleHealth’s technology in action, Sweeney said there will be plenty of nurses available at the open house to answer questions on the process and to help interested veterans enroll in VA health care programs.

For more information on the open house, call the Craig Veterans TeleHealth Clinic at 824-6721. Veterans may also learn how to enroll by visiting www.grandjunction.va.gov.

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