Training for Change

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News October 2015

Late summer training for PVA National Service Officers

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Training for Change

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) National Service Officers (NSO) received some late-summer training to catch them up on the much publicized changes within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 
Health Administration.

NSOs from all 25 VA Spinal Cord Injury and Disease Centers around the country were in Washington, D.C., Aug. 10–14 for the first Clinical Advocates Training session given since the Phoenix VA scandal and passage of the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (VACAA).
“This training was necessitated by all of the changes at the Veterans Health Administration,” says Sherman Gillums Jr., deputy executive director of PVA. “The VACAA enables private sector care as an alternative to VA care, which is fine for most veterans. But for those who need specialized care, it’s harder to ensure those veterans are receiving not just convenient care but quality care — that’s an important distinction.”

The training focused on those and other changes associated with the VACAA as well as anticipated changes in the health administration’s pending realignment, which includes the addition of more staff, programs and new clinical approaches.
One such change will involve redesigning spinal-cord injury center hospital rooms from shared to private. This would mean veterans would be exposed to fewer communicable infections, but it would also mean decreased peer mentorship during rehabilitation.
“We have to figure out how to navigate those challenges when it becomes necessary to intercede on behalf of a veteran we represent,” Gillums says. “We also must ensure the veterans are not being charged for care when the VA should be covering it.”


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