VA, UMMS committed to working together to expand services for Worcester-area veterans

UMass Medical School Communications

December 17, 2015
  UMMS and the VA are working toward an agreement in the short-term that could clear the way to make clinical space available for VA health care providers to treat veterans in the Ambulatory Care Center on the UMMS campus.
  UMMS and the VA are working toward an agreement in the short-term that could clear the way to make clinical space available for VA health care providers to treat veterans in the Ambulatory Care Center on the UMMS campus.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff Rob Nabors and VA Executive Director of Construction and Facilities Management Stella Fiotes met with Congressman James McGovern, UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael F. Collins, VA New England Director Michael Mayo-Smith, MD, and John P. Collins, director of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System, to further develop the relationship between the two organizations as they work together to expand services to veterans in the Worcester County area.

Providing expanded services on the UMMS campus would lead to a notable reduction in travel time for many veterans, an improvement in the coordination of care and expanded access to specialty care services and clinical trials.

“Advancing meaningful partnerships with strong academic partners such as UMass Medical School is critical to our mission,” said Nabors, after the visit. “Many options remain on the table; the conversation and tour allowed us to see first-hand the potential to move forward both in the short-term and, in the long-term, to expand VA’s ability to offer the very best medical care to veterans.”

While actively pursuing opportunities for greater collaboration and shared programs in the future, UMMS and the VA of Central and Western Mass have been working together to design an annex of specialty services on the UMMS campus.  In early 2016, the VA will begin providing specialty care within Biotech 4, which is located on the UMMS campus in the UMass Medicine Science Park. The annex will provide high demand specialty services including podiatry, optometry and audiology. Audiology is a new service for Worcester area veterans, allowing them the opportunity to receive this popular service locally instead of traveling long distances to other VA facilities in New England.

Simultaneously, Congress authorized the VA, through the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act, to lease a 40,000 square-foot clinical space to replace the current outdated community-based outpatient clinic on Lincoln Street. The VA has advanced two lots as finalists for that clinic, including the MassDOT property at 403 Belmont Street, which is adjacent to the UMMS campus.

Additionally, both institutions are working toward an agreement in the short-term that could clear the way to make clinical space available for VA health care providers to treat veterans in the Ambulatory Care Center on the UMMS campus.

“Honoring our veterans starts with ensuring they receive the care they need when they return home. I am grateful to Mr. Nabors and the VA for their work to move this partnership forward and to Chancellor Collins for his steadfast commitment to meeting the needs of local veterans and their families,” Congressman McGovern said. “UMass Medical School is a world class innovative research and medical facility and I hope this will build on the important relationship between UMass Medical School and the VA as we work together to strengthen access to the care our veterans deserve.

“We are most grateful that Mr. Nabors and his colleagues hold the potential for this partnership in such high regard that they were willing to make a personal visit to Worcester,” said Chancellor Collins. “The medical school’s leadership and faculty remain ready, willing and able to be a strong ally alongside the VA in pursuit of our shared goal of providing the very best care, education and access to research for those who have served our nation.”

UMass President Martin T. Meehan said he seeks excellence in everything that the university does. “The opportunity for some of the brightest minds at our medical school to work hand-in-hand with the VA is an extension of our commitment to the commonwealth as the state’s public research university. I intend to support Chancellor Collins in any way I can to see that we can move this important project along.”

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