Phoenix VA, CVS Partnership Serves 783 Vets Since Launch

By Mariana Dale
Published: Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 6:00pm
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
“Why should a veteran on a weekend have to wait until Monday?” said Sen. John McCain of minor health care needs.

A pilot program that allows Phoenix Veterans Affairs’ clients to get treatment for minor health issues at CVS clinics has served 783 veterans as of Christmas Day.  

“It’s a partnership where we’re focused on convenience for veterans,” said Phoenix VA Chief of Staff Maureen McCarthy. The pilot program launched in April. She said patients average about 120 a month and report they’re happy with the program.

“In a lot of ways it helps the veteran who doesn’t have to travel,” McCarthy said. “It keeps them out of our emergency room or walking into our urgent care clinics. We’re happy to do any of those things for them, but when it’s convenient and easy for them and they seem to like it, it seems to be a great satisfier.”

McCarthy said veterans frequently go to the clinics for coughs, colds and sinus conditions.

How It Works

Veterans call a VA triage nurse (602-222-6550) and press 3. A nurse will evaluate the patient’s symptoms and if applicable, refer them to the nearest eligible MinuteClinic.

“It’s patient preference, or veteran preference, if they want to pursue the CVS if they have a condition that is treatable there,” said Lynn Scneider, the Phoenix VA’s primary care nursing chief. 

The line was originally open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but was expanded in October to include nights, weekends and holidays.

The clinic visits are paid for through the Veterans Choice Program. President Donald Trump signed an emergency funding bill last week to extend its budget through Jan. 19.

“That allows us to have to opportunity continue to serve veterans either here internally or in the community  and to coordinate the care between them.”

Lawmakers need to approve a new deal to prevent a government shutdown and fund the Veterans Choice program long term.

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