MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Renovations under way at the Memphis VA Medical Center will expand services for veterans who are women or served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The hospital, which last year served more than 60,000 veterans from West Tennessee, northeast Arkansas and northern Mississippi, also is adding 61 specialists in mental health treatment and $14 million in new equipment.
The medical center last month received good marks for its treatment of heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia in a national ranking in The Joint Commission Annual Report on Quality and Safety.
Dr. Kathy Ryder, deputy chief of staff, told the Memphis Daily News the rating reflects how the hospital has used standardized, evidence-based care to treat those illnesses.
The unit focused on women veterans is expected to open in December.
"Some are victims of military sexual trauma, and we have to be able to accommodate that particular need with defined spaces, policies and access points," said Jimmy McGlawn, VA Memphis associate director and CEO.
The expansion to serve veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq is expected to open in the spring.
"Specialists will be co-located so it will be only a few short steps for a veteran to move from one specialist to the next to get his or her needs met as quickly and as completely as possible," said Dr. Thomas Kirchberg, VA Memphis chief psychologist.
The medical center is hiring psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other ancillary staff to support treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We are also seeing a need from men and women who served in the Vietnam War and other military operations of the past 30 years," Kirchberg said. "They are starting to reach retirement age. As they retire, veterans who have had heavy combat experience begin to focus less on their work-related activities, and they begin to focus more on things that happened (during war)."
Some mental health care will be provided at one of the VA hospital's 10 outpatient clinics in Bolivar, Covington, Dyersburg, Jackson and Savannah, Tenn.; Byhalia and Smithville, Miss.; and Helena and Jonesboro, Ark.
Information from: The Memphis Daily News, http://www.memphisdailynews.com
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