HELENA — The Montana VA Health Care System (MTVAHCS) is opening a new $12 million primary care clinic on Tuesday at Fort Harrison.
The state-of-the-art clinic will now provide primary care services to Montana veterans in a contiguous space and is designed around the VA’s integrated Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model.
Instead of a veteran going to each provider, each provider comes to the veteran in a “one-stop-shop” approach.
“We definitely kind of had a lot of staff kind of spread out between two different clinic sites so this really consolidates people it brings them together, allows for easier communication and really bring in different staff members and specialty services to the patient in a much more streamlined fashion,” said Clinical Manager Sean Salerno, RN.
Patient rooms are set up around the outer edge of the building with MTVAHCS staff located in a central area. By being located in the center, staff can easily move between patients without the patients needing to move.
MTVAHCS says the PACT model helps enhance real-time decision making, offers more adaptability and flexibility and streamlines communication.
For example, a veteran could be coming in for a thyroid issue and mention that they are having mental health challenges. The provider can then go grab a PACT team psychiatrist on the same floor for a consultation with the patient. Should medication be needed, a PACT pharmacist just a few doors away can be consulted to make sure there are no conflicting medications.
“I would say about half the patients I see throughout the day need more than one service,” said Erik Vilen, MD, MTVAHCS physician. “To be able to put a face with that person for the veteran really increases the way that we can provide care at that time and make sure that they have that appropriate follow-up.”
At the new clinic, veterans will be able to receive primary care services, dietary, pharmacy, mental health care, tele-retinal, tele-audiology and tele-specialty care.
“Our healthcare teams are excited to officially welcome Veterans to their new clinic,” said MTVAHCS Executive Director Dr. Judy Hayman. “The PACT design allows our care teams to collaborate instantly to best serve our Veterans and make all our available healthcare resources a door away.”
This is the third PACT-designed clinic that MTVAHCS has opened since August 2020. The clinic is expected to serve roughly 5,000 enrolled veterans.