South Jersey Veterans Currently Facing Waits of Almost a Month for Initial Primary Care Visits and a Month-and-a-Half for Specialty Care
Today, area veterans joined with Cooper University Health Care to announce the new “Cooper Veterans VIP Priority” program that promises same-day service for area veterans seeking primary care, as well as dedicated health professionals to assist them with their overall health care needs. The program will serve veterans in the seven southern New Jersey counties. It is believed the Cooper program is the first in the nation to guarantee same-day primary care to veterans.
“All of us should be appalled by what has been reported about the difficulties some veterans face obtaining basic health care,” said George E. Norcross, III, Chairman of the Board at Cooper, today after listing some of the challenges veterans face, including an estimated 25-day wait for primary care visits for New Jersey veterans.
“That is why we are so proud to announce that just as these brave men and women have stood up for us, we will stand up for them by providing high-quality health care, including same-day service for primary care and dedicated professionals to meet their healthcare needs, as part of our new “Cooper Veterans VIP Priority” program, stated Mr. Norcross. We believe the ‘same-day service’ will quickly become the model for providing care to America’s heroes.”
The new program, which will begin July 1, 2014, includes the following:
- Same-day primary care appointments for veterans regardless of their health insurance status.
- Dedicated navigators to coordinate care.
- A focused website detailing services and allowing online questions and scheduling.
- Preventive health care services, including cancer screening in collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper.
- Screenings for other high-risk conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary disease and vascular disease.
- Care coordination for substance abuse issues.
Mr. Norcross was joined at the announcement by Bernard Epworth, former NJ State Commander, Jewish War Veterans and member of NJ Veterans Hospital Task Force; John Chovanes, DO, Cooper trauma surgeon and Major (P) (S), Unites States Army Reserve Medical Corps; the Reverend Floyd White, Director of Camden County Veteran Affairs; and Adrienne Kirby, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cooper University Health Care.
“I am so pleased that Cooper is taking the lead to ensure that the brave men and women who defend our freedom can, and should, receive high-quality, timely healthcare,” said Mr. Epworth. “I hope and expect that our government will address this issue to meet the needs of every veteran quickly, just as Cooper is doing here in New Jersey.”
In New Jersey, new patients for primary care wait an average of nearly 25 days and the average wait time for new patients seeking specialty care within the VA New Jersey Health Care System was nearly 47 days according to a recent audit of the Veterans Administration. The average wait time for a mental health appointment was nearly 30 days for a new patient. An audit of 731 VA sites nationwide flagged about 15 percent of those facilities for further review, including those in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“Our mission at Cooper is to serve, to heal and to educate, and we are committed to providing world-class care on a timely basis for our veterans,” said Dr. Kirby. “It’s the right thing to do for the courageous men and women who have so unselfishly served our country.”