CASPER, Wyo. – There are around 2,500 veterans living in the Casper area today, and Casper’s VA clinic aims to serve all of them.
Casper’s first VA clinic opened nearly 25 years ago and has been based in the Sunrise Shopping Center for about 10 years. If all goes as planned, the clinic will have a new home by summer.
“What we’re doing is doubling the size of the clinic,” said outpatient clinic director Scott Morey. “Our patient population in Casper is so large that we’ve just about outgrown this space.”
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Morey says the VA has secured a lease at 6000 E. Second St. and is in the process of finalizing the interior architectural plans. The goal is to move in by the end of July.
Casper’s VA clinic is one of eight in the Sheridan VA Hospital healthcare system. The largest VA hospital in Wyoming is based in Cheyenne, which has surgical capabilities and its own network of regional clinics.
Casper’s VA move is part of an effort to provide more comprehensive healthcare that addresses specific needs for veterans.
“We provide a huge array of services,” said Casper clinic manager Tanya Morrison. “Right here in the clinic we have three primary care Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT). We also have a psychiatrist and a social worker.”
Morrison says PACT teams consist of four core medical specialists who work closely together to assist veteran needs. In addition to PACT teams, the clinic now offers a full-time pharmacist, physical therapist and a nutritionist.
The new clinic will have room for an additional PACT team, its own pharmacy and room for on-site physical therapy.
Morrison says telehealth technology has recently revolutionized how the clinic treats patients. The technology helps veterans meet with skilled specialists based in places like Salt Lake and Denver.
“Any speciality type of service, we can provide that (with telehealth),” said Morey. “It’s being used beyond my wildest dreams.”
The clinic has also added home-based care, allowing VA teams to visit home-bound veterans.
“It’s been in Sheridan a number of years, and it’s been here in the clinic for a year now,” said Morrison. “We started out with just one RN and we hired another one. It shows how fast that program is growing.”
The clinic has adjusted its care focus as veteran’s needs have changed. That means dealing with more amputations since the start of the Middle East conflicts, and more PTSD.
Morey says federal funding for the VA system is currently healthy, allowing Casper’s clinic to grow as needs change even when politics are volatile.
“When the government has shut down, we have a two-year budget cycle,” he said. “The last time they shut down it didn’t affect VA employees.”
The new clinic and increased reliance of telehealth technology will help Casper VA clinic address the changing needs of Wyoming veterans, particularly with mental health and physical therapy.
“There’s not a lot we don’t see here,” said Morrison. “If the veteran is dealing with it, then we’re dealing with it.”