Senator Roy Blunt toured the VA’s new Gene Taylor Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Springfield today.
Blunt praised the facility’s integrated processes that allow doctors to work together for the overall treatment of the patient and said that the clinic in Springfield could be a model for VA Clinics around the nation.
“I think the future of the VA is more clinics like this,” Blunt said during a press conference.
Blunt said that he has been working with the VA to gain funding for programs that make the VA’s approach more patient-focused with an aim toward finding them the best healthcare possible even if it’s not within the VA hospital or clinic system.
Blunt also singled out the need for more mental health treatment for our veterans and said Springfield’s clinic’s ability to provide both medical treatment and mental health treatment in the same place is a huge benefit to a more patient-oriented approach to care.
“One of the things I’ve been very interested both in the Veteran’s system and other health systems is mental health treatment and having mental health treated like any other health,” Blunt said.
Blunt praised the way doctors at the Springfield clinic can immediately work together for a patient, with a medical doctor sending a patient for mental health services if they feel it’s needed and vice versa.
Blunt also said that studies are showing treating mental health like any other health care situations actually reduces the overall costs of healthcare in America.
“People that have other health problems (beyond mental health) are now taking their medicine on time, eating better, sleeping better, feeling better about themselves,” he said. “Seeing their doctors when they should, showing up for appointments when they say they have said they would. All of those things, you save so much money when that works the right way.”
Blunt said that as a country we have fallen behind when it comes to providing mental health care.
“We have let law enforcement and emergency rooms become the de facto mental health providers of this country and there’s no reason for that,” Blunt said. “So any time I’m in a discussion about healthcare I make sure that mental health is a part of that.”
Blunt also praised the Springfield clinic’s new telemedicine options, stating that telemedicine could also be used to enhance America’s mental health care systems.
“Many people with a mental health issue would just as soon like to speak to someone on a screen as have someone in the room with them,” Blunt said. “New recruits to the military have a choice. Everyone has a mental health screening and more than 50 percent of the recruits are choosing to go to the room where they do tele-mental health…some people are more comfortable with that.”