Montana Veterans Affairs to open $12M primary care clinic

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

HELENA (AP) — The Montana VA Health Care System has announced plans to open a $12 million primary care clinic at a medical center in Helena where veterans will remain in a single appointment room and each provider will come to them in a “one stop shop” approach.

The 20,000-square-foot (1,800-square-meter) clinic at Fort Harrison VA Medical Center will serve about 5,000 veterans and provide primary care in one space designed around the integrated Patient Aligned Care Team model, the Independent Record reported.

The announcement came a day after Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced a scheduled visit to Montana with Democratic Sen. Jon Tester this week. McDonough and Tester are expected to visit at least two VA facilities in the state.

Mike Garcia, administrative officer for primary care, said Monday that the Patient Aligned Care Team model is the industry standard now being used outside the VA, noting that veterans are sure to like the service.

“We feel our products are better than what they will find in the private sector,” he said.

Officials said three teams on each of the two floors are expected to work with veterans in the state, bringing in other health care services, such as social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, mental health practitioners and others. Psychologist Danielle Kahlo said this allows staff to be much more proactive with patients.

The care model places clinicians to help with real-time decision-making, streamlines communications and brings care and service support directly to veterans, officials said. It is the third PACTdesigned clinic opened by Montana VA Health Care System since August 2020.

Executive Director Dr. Judy Hayman said the PACT design lets care teams collaborate instantly to best serve veterans and make all available health care resources a door away.

The Montana VA Health Care System serves over 47,000 enrolled veterans across Montana. About 1,400 people work at 17 sites of care across the state, and about one-third of employees are veterans, officials said.