Expanding Culturally Competent Care to Veterans at Non-VA Providers
December 10, 2018
An NYSHealth-funded needs assessment of veterans and their families throughout New York State found that about half of veterans prefer to seek care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), whereas the other half prefer to receive care from private, non-VA providers.
Between 2015 and 2018, the VA increased the amount of private care it purchased for eligible veterans from 20% to more than 30%. The result is a record number of veterans who now receive care outside of VA facilities. In March 2018, the RAND Corporation released an NYSHealth-funded survey of private providers in New York State to determine how prepared they are to understand and meet the needs of veterans. The survey found that only 2% of private providers fully met readiness criteria for effectively serving the veteran population. In 2018, NYSHealth awarded the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) a grant to train and educate private, non-VA health providers about the unique health and social needs of veterans and appropriately refer them to resources in the community.
Under this grant, NYLAG created a training curriculum for health care providers on the health and legal needs of veterans and the resources and benefits available to them. NYLAG built off of its veterans’ legal resource guide and conducted a review of other competency trainings that currently exist. Using this curriculum, in-person trainings were conducted at partner provider sites, with the goal of training hundreds of hospital and clinic staff, including social workers, physicians, nurses, and case managers, on how to best identify, screen, and serve veteran patients. The training also included guidance on how to assess a veteran’s need for legal assistance and how to educate providers on providing referrals to connect patients with free legal services. A toolkit was created for statewide replication of the trainings, including the curriculum; guidance on which stakeholders to engage and how to choose provider sites; best practices; and lessons learned. NYLAG’s advocacy efforts encouraged more providers to begin conducting veteran screenings as part of their standard of care.