VA opens larger, safer clinic with more services for women veterans

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected] | November 2nd, 2016 5:45 pm

PLAINS TWP. — The new space created for the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center’s Women’s Veterans Clinic was dedicated Wednesday, providing more services in a larger and safer environment.

According to Patricia Conroy, program manager, the new space is dedicated to providing specialized services for female veterans.

Conroy said the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center currently serves 3,089 unique women veterans, across its 19-county coverage area, with services also available through Wilkes-Barre’s community-based outpatient clinics.

“Our new space provides more privacy and better security for our women veterans,” Conroy said prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

William Klaips, executive assistant to the director, said the new space was created through an in-house project — the facility funded it and VA employees did the work. Klaips said approximately 30 employees worked on the renovations —80 percent of those employees were veterans.

Val Boytin, nurse executive, said the VA “truly recognizes” the needs of women veterans.

“Some 10 percent of all living veterans are women, and the number is constantly growing,” Boytin said.

With more than 1,300 employees, and facilities in Wilkes-Barre as well as Bradford, Lycoming, Columbia, Wayne, Monroe, Lehigh and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania, the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center operates 166 inpatient beds and conducted 403,352 outpatient visits last year.

Conroy said women who have served in the Armed Forces are eligible for a variety of benefits. The VAMC’s women’s health program targets programs and facilities to meet the unique needs of female veterans, she said, such as:

• Primary Care

• Women’s health screen/PAP exams and mammograms

• Sexually transmitted diseases

• Pregnancy/infertility

• Osteoporosis screening and treatment

• Contraception

• Substance abuse counseling

• Adjustment counseling

• Psychological issues: depression/adjustment

• Family life issues: domestic violence/financial issues.

Conroy said general care includes health evaluation and counseling, disease prevention, nutrition counseling, weight control, smoking cessation, and substance abuse counseling and treatment as well as gender-specific primary care, such as cervical cancer screens (PAP smears), breast cancer screens (mammograms), birth control, pre-conception counseling, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and menopausal support (hormone replacement therapy).

She said mental healthcare includes evaluation and assistance for issues such as depression, mood and anxiety disorders; intimate partner and domestic violence; sexual trauma; elder abuse or neglect; parenting and anger management; marital, caregiver, or family-related stress; and post-deployment adjustment or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Conroy said the women’s center will also provide specialty care:

• Management and screening of chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, glandular disorders, osteoporosis, and Fibromyalgia as well as sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

• Reproductive health care includes maternity care, infertility evaluation and limited treatment; sexual problems, tubal ligation, urinary incontinence and others.

• Rehabilitation, home-bound and long-term care, including VA referrals given to those in need of rehabilitation therapies such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, exercise therapy, recreational therapy, and vocational therapy.

• Home-bound and long-term care services are available as well, limited to those meeting specific requirements.

Patricia Conway, women’s vetran program coordinator, and Valerie Boytin, nurse executive, tour the new Women’s Veterans Clinic at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center on Wednesday. Conway, women’s vetran program coordinator, and Valerie Boytin, nurse executive, tour the new Women’s Veterans Clinic at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center on Wednesday.

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.