The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville became the 17th center in the United States on Monday to open a clinic to help veterans navigate online access to health care.
Online services such as scheduling, asking whether a veteran needs to see a doctor or navigating benefits often can prove daunting, medical center Director George Velez said at the ceremony at the medical center. The new clinic will consist of local people helping veterans by phone to navigate. Staff also will follow up to make sure veterans received the appropriate help, he said.
"They aren't going to be sent to some call center in Florida" or some other state, Velez said of the new clinic, in Building 21 on the Fayetteville center's campus. "This is local people helping local veterans."
The Virtual Health Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., excluding federal holidays. The telephone number is (479) 443-4301, extension 63151.
The goal of the center is to provide the most immediate and best care in the location the veteran wants, said Robin Burchfield, the Ozarks system's telehealth coordinator.
"It's technology with a human touch," Burchfield said.
Neil Weatherton, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War who spoke at the ceremony said he uses the medical center's online services every day.
"This center has saved my life three times," he said.
Veterans such as him are able to consult with their doctors and other specialists without having to make a trip.
"The best thing about it is, I don't have to come here," Weatherton said. "It's not that I don't enjoy the people here when I do, but I don't have to get into traffic and all that."
Phil Yates of Fayetteville is a volunteer driver for American Legion Post 139 in Springdale. He predicted the service will be of great benefit to veterans whose health conditions restrict their ability to travel. This includes the veterans he drives, often as far as Little Rock, to get services available through the Veterans Department there. These include some cardiovascular procedures and treatments for the eyes not available in Fayetteville.