Comprehensive Care for Our Veterans
By: Dayle Benson, DHA, and Derek Sakata, MD | Nov 11, 2021 11:00 AM
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we want to take a moment to shine a light on the impactful work taking place at the South Jordan VA Clinic. The clinic, located adjacent to University of Utah Health’s South Jordan Health Center, opened its doors in September 2020. Its opening marks an exciting new chapter in the 75-year partnership between U of U Health and the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System.are sick.
Expanding Our Reach
Bringing world-class care and expertise to more of Utah’s veterans called for a new model of care. The solution was the creation of a VA clinic that could partner with an existing U of U Health facility. Our shared vision provides veterans with a full range of primary care and mental health services. These options include Telehealth, Tele-Mental Health, and VA Video Connect Service. The clinic’s close proximity to the South Jordan Health Center allows for greater collaboration while also giving VA patients access to urgent, specialty, and emergency care when needed. Never before has this type of comprehensive care existed for veterans in the southwest part of Salt Lake County.
More Than 20,000 Clinic Visits
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, shortly after opening, the clinic shifted to all-virtual services. Over the last six to eight months, we have been busy building relationships at the clinic, tracking patient experiences and outcomes, and gaining a better understanding of patient needs.
Even with setbacks caused by the pandemic, the clinic accomplished a lot in its first year. We have improved access, and more veterans are receiving the health care they need closer to their homes. We had more than 20,000 clinical visits in the first nine months. Services have expanded to include smoking cessation, grief counseling, and weight loss programs, along with COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, booster shots, and drive-through flu shots.
Partnership in Action
This summer, a veteran arrived at the clinic with chest and stomach pain. The nurse care manager coordinated with colleagues across the street at the South Jordan Health Center to have the patient seamlessly transferred to the ER. It was confirmed that the patient was having a cardiac event. The swift, coordinated effort between VA and U of U Health staff prevented further damage to the patient’s heart.
Just one week later, care teams faced a similar situation when a veteran came to the clinic with chest pains and shortness of breath following a recent cardiac surgery. Our teams swung into action once again to get the patient to the ER for the lifesaving care he needed. Kimberly Linnebur, a medical support assistant, remembers what it was like to be working at the front desk of the VA clinic on both occasions. “U of U Health staff were kind, respectful, understanding, and very efficient,” she said. “They took our information seriously and got our veterans the care they needed immediately. The triage nurse was very friendly and assured me that they would be happy to assist us any time that we needed them to care for our veterans.”
In its first year, the South Jordan VA Clinic had great success and many lessons learned. When it comes to optimizing patient care, we know how important it is to share information across different health care systems. This will be a major focus in the coming years.
We are also committed to greater efficiencies around referrals between U of U Health and the VA system. As we improve both our data analysis and flow, we will improve patient outcomes and ensure our patients receive the comprehensive care they need at the right place and right time.
Continually striving to increase access to needed care and services is our way of expressing deep gratitude for the courage, commitment, and sacrifice of those who have served our country in uniform.
Dayle Benson, DHA
Dayle Benson is the executive director and chief of staff for clinical affairs for the University of Utah Medical Group. Benson focuses on clinical partnerships, care delivery models, workforce needs, clinical innovations, and clinical vision and strategy. She leads clinical and business operations, contracting and payer relations, advanced data analytics, workforce needs, and population health strategies. During her tenure, the Medical Group has grown to more than half a billion dollars in clinical revenue and achieved best practice performance.
Derek Sakata, MD
Derek Sakata is an anesthesiologist and professor of anesthesiology. Sakata serves as Vice Chair of Perioperative Innovations in the Department of Anesthesiology, Chief Value Officer for Ambulatory Anesthesiology, and Executive Medical Director for U of U Health’s Ambulatory Southern Service Delivery Area. He received his MD from Loma Linda University and completed a residency in anesthesiology at the University of Utah