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Hospitals ready to help veterans in wake of VA scandal

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With Washington, D.C., moving forward with legislation that would allow veterans to use civilian health care providers, New Jersey hospitals are getting ready to step up and help alleviate the scandal of long medical care delays that has engulfed the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cooper University Health Care in Camden said Monday it will give veterans same-day access to primary care physicians with its new “Cooper Veterans VIP Priority” program.

Other New Jersey hospitals also are preparing to pitch in.  

Robert Segin, chief financial officer of the Virtua health care system, said, “If the Obama administration and Congress pass a bill that allows private health care systems and organizations to see veterans, we would welcome that opportunity.” He said families of veterans should be included.

Cooper spokeswoman Lori Shaffer cited reports that Washington could clear the way this week for veterans to get care at civilian facilities.

“We are prepped and ready to accept them, so that veterans have immediate access to whatever they need,” she said. She said Cooper won’t be able to provide same-day access to specialists, “but it would be that primary care that can start the ball rolling for the veterans.”

Cooper said it will formally announce its veterans initiative at a news conference Tuesday in Camden.

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Cooper said the program will provide same-day service for primary care visits and dedicated health care navigators to work with veterans: “This new program will hopefully serve as a national model for providing timely, high quality care.”

Virtua’s Segin said veterans can call the Virtua health care navigation hotline, 888-Virtua3, to find out if their VA policy will allow them to use Virtua.


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