Efforts are underway at the Department of Veterans Affairs to encourage nearly 3 million veterans to come into a VA medical center or clinic and receive a brief five-minute screening for possible exposure to environmental hazards.
Under a requirement of the PACT Act, the VA must try to screen all patients enrolled in VA health care for toxic exposures. To date, it has screened 4.8 million veterans, 40% of whom have reported having at least one concern or experience with potential exposures.
Next on the list, however, are the 3 million veterans who are enrolled at the VA but don't actually receive their medical care in a VA facility.
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According to VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the department will embark on an “extensive outreach effort” to ensure that those veterans have the chance to be screened.
Elnahal said that he is optimistic that the VA will succeed in the effort, given that the veterans already are enrolled in care and the department has at least some contact information for them.
He hopes the effort will encourage the veterans to turn to the “VA for their health care more regularly,” he added.
“I hope that when they come into our brick-and-mortar institutions or otherwise get screened, they realize that we've got a team and set of teams across the country dedicated to veteran care,”…