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Sheridan VA Further Expanding Telehealth Services

The entry to the Sheridan Veteran Administration Health System
Catherine Wheeler
Wyoming Public Radio

The Sheridan Veteran's Administration Health System is working on growing its telehealth services.

With this expansion, the Sheridan VA will connect patients with doctors in other VAs. By keeping it within the VA system, a patient's files can easily transfer between hospitals and the veteran can go into their local VA clinic or sometimes stay in their home for appointments.

Right now, the VA is working on making urology, dermatology, and oncology services available.

Sheridan VA Chief of Staff Eric Crawford said these are services they usually have to contract to local providers outside of the VA.

"Those are high magnitude needs. They've often had to travel [a] significant distance in the state of Wyoming or sometimes outside of the state to be able to get that high magnitude care. Now we'll be able to increase access through these virtual mechanisms and address those needs directly," Crawford added.

He said urology is one of the most out-referred specialties at the VA and oncology is one of the most expensive specialties that the VA doesn’t provide now.

Crawford said the telehealth services have proved useful to veterans, especially those who would need to travel a long distance to even get to the Sheridan VA campus. He said all three should get up and running in the coming months.

On top of that, the Sheridan VA has been providing its rheumatology services to other VAs via telehealth. Dr. Gina Raptoulis at the Sheridan VA said it’s helpful to see her patients through video while they’re at a clinic getting their physical examinations.

"We're able to provide the patients who are unable to get care usually because of either their limited, really rural situation or they have inaccess because some of the other physicians have retired and they're having really long wait times. So we've been able to help these patients out who really need specialty care," she said.

Raptoulis said she's been providing services since April to VA systems in Montana and Oklahoma.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.

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