Some vets can go to CVS 'MinuteClinics' for minor illnesses

Matt Rourke  AP

Almost 120,000 veterans who are enrolled at the Phoenix VA can now used the minute clinic at CVS Pharmacies.

The project is part of a series of trials in a partnership between CVS and VA to test the limited treatment model, which was first used near the Palo Alto VA.

Under this program, nurses at the Phoenix VA facility's help line will be allowed to refer veterans to CVS' MinuteClinics when it is deemed "medically appropriate". If it works, VA officials will branch out to other VA health care operations around the country.

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"Veterans must have access to information that is clear and understandable to make informed decisions about their health care", said VA Sec.

Through the website, patients can also find out what veterans have to say about access to care. "Partnerships between VA and private providers are essential to delivering care in the diverse geographies where Veterans live", he said.

FILE - In this June 21, 2013 file photo, the seal affixed to the front of the Veterans Affairs Department building in Washington.

The current Choice program was developed after the 2014 scandal in Phoenix in which some veterans died, yet the program has often encountered long waits of its own. In Sioux Falls, the website reports that 98 percent of the veterans who reported were "Always" or "Usually" able to get an primary care appointment when needed. "We are working to leverage technology to share important clinical information and ensure care continuity", said Dr. Maureen McCarthy, PVAHCS Chief of Staff.

The VA previously experimented with a similar program previous year in the smaller market of Palo Alto, a $330,000 pilot to provide urgent care at 14 MinuteClinics. To facilitate care coordination, MinuteClinic visit summaries will be sent to a veteran's VA primary care physician.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today a new initiative between the Phoenix VA Health Care System (PVAHCS), TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), that will expand access to high quality and convenient health care services for Veterans in Phoenix and surrounding communities.

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