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Department of Defense-VA Partnership Allows Veteran Surgeries at Naval Hospital

Image of Sign that says "VA Ambulatory Surgery Entrance". Naval Hospital Pensacola is hosting Department of Veterans Affairs surgeries by VA clinicians in a new partnership to expand veteran health care in the Gulf Coast.

The Department of Defense Naval Hospital Pensacola is hosting outpatient surgical care provided by clinicians from the Department of Veterans Affairs for approximately 37,000 Gulf Coast-area veterans’ health care system patients under a new partnership.

Beginning the week of Oct. 16, 2023, the partnership gives VA clinical space within the hospital and expands services for both veterans and DOD beneficiaries.

‘A Win-Win’

“We are very pleased to announce this new partnership with the VA,” Dr. Lester Martínez-López, the DOD assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said on Oct. 19. “Not only does it provide increased opportunities to care for those who have sacrificed so much for this country, but it also supports readiness by helping our medical professionals maintain their clinical skills.”

“It is a win-win for all those involved. Plus, we are able to do this without diminishing the quality and access to care for our beneficiaries,” Martínez said.
VA plans to expand surgery access for veterans at Naval Hospital Pensacola in 2024, adding services such as orthopedics; ear, nose, and throat; podiatry; ophthalmology; and, urology.

A second, future, phase will include a joint DOD-VA infrastructure investment to activate a 12-bed medical-surgical inpatient unit that will serve DOD beneficiaries and veterans.

How the Partnership Helps Veterans

Previously, local veterans traveled to the Biloxi VA Medical Center in Mississippi for these surgical procedures or received their care from community providers. Local veterans will not have to change their normal processes to access this new care; instead, VA will schedule their surgical procedures at the new clinic as appropriate.

VA providers will request referrals and consults as they would for other services in the health care system.

“This partnership will help VA provide more care, more quickly, to more Gulf Coast veterans—as close to their homes as possible,” said VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal.

“Establishing partnerships like this is an efficient and cost-effective method for VA to increase veteran access to care, while helping modernize the veteran health care experience,” he said. “We are proud to work with DOD to better service our nation’s heroes.”

The partnership is a key part of VA’ s strategy to modernize its health care system nationwide. Through this work, VA is aggressively working to expand the amount of available space to meet veteran demand for VA health care services and address challenges associated with aging facilities.

For more information on VA health care for Gulf Coast veterans, visit VA Gulf Coast Health Care.

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Last Updated: October 26, 2023
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