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Witness Testimony of Major General David W. Eidsaune, Eglin Air Force Base, FL, Commander, Air Armament Center, Department of the Air Force, U.S. Department of Defense

Executive Summary

Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) and the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (VA GCVHS) have developed a partnership to provide more accessible health care to eligible Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans’ Affairs (VA) patients in the Northwest Florida region, that will be the cornerstone for future sharing activities.  

Eglin Air Force Base is continually working to expand available health care services for our eligible patients.  This has included renovating and expanding existing health care facilities to meet the needs of our expanding patient population as well as planning new facilities such as the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), highlighted today.  


There is a clear need for additional health care for our veterans; the VA and Eglin AFB have combined forces to address this need.  The resulting VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the spring of 2008.  It is a huge step towards meeting the needs of our veterans in northwest Florida.

The Need

The Veterans Affairs (VA) Gulf Coast Veterans’ Health Care System (VA GCVHS) covers the gulf coast of Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.   This extensive area is covered by one VHA inpatient facility located in Biloxi, MS, and three outpatient clinics in Mobile, AL, and Pensacola and Panama City, FL.  107,979 veterans, 47% of the total veteran population for the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (VA GCVHS), reside in the Florida panhandle.      

Because the Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida is one of the top ten fastest growing areas in the United States, there is a need to provide the VA community with the medical services they deserve.  This four-county area (Walton, Santa Rosa, Holmes and Okaloosa), that will be served by the VA CBOC, is primarily rural, has a total population of 347,406 based on the 2000 U.S. census data, and a veteran population of 50, 902 (based on FY 2003 Veteran Population Projections).  The VA CBOC will significantly improve access to VA primary care services for veterans residing in the Northwest Florida area, eliminating the need for extended travel.  Improved access and timeliness of care will further enhance the quality of health care services through earlier intervention. 

Quick Facts

  • 16,700 square foot facility
  • Estimated cost is $5.232M
  • Basic clinic with Primary Care, Mental Health, small Lab and Pharmacy
  • Built on 10 acres of AF land
  • Site allows a separate entrance for the VA
  • Oct 2006: Groundbreaking
  • Dec 2007:  (Projected) Complete Construction
  • Early 2008: (Projected) Complete Activation / Ribbon Cutting

Location

The VA GCVHS requested beddown approval on Eglin AFB to improve access, prepare for continued population increases, and satisfy quality and continuity issues. This option builds upon the strong relationship locally with Department of Defense medical facilities. 

On June 22, 2006, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations signed a land-use permit that authorized the VA to use the 10-acre parcel on Eglin AFB as a CBOC building site at no cost to the VA.  This arrangement saved the VA and taxpayers $1.47M by avoiding the cost of purchasing the land.  The 10-acre site is adequate for both existing and future requirements.  It ensures availability of land for future expansion up to 50% without incurring real estate costs.  The VA CBOC’s close proximity to Eglin Hospital will provide tremendous opportunities for sharing arrangements.  For the past twelve months, Eglin AFB and VA GCVHS have been evaluating mutually beneficial sharing agreements for inpatient care, emergency room services, radiology, laboratory, pharmacy and specialty care.  Examples of VA/DoD Sharing Agreements that already exist include the VA GCVHCS Panama City CBOC, which is located on the Navy Coastal Station in Panama City Beach, Florida and an agreement with the Pensacola Naval Hospital for inpatient and other specialty care.

Scope of Services

The clinic will offer primary care, mental health, audiology services and routine/urgent care procedures, such as suturing, simple dermatology procedures, skin testing, dressing changes, injections and immunizations.  VA staff will provide Primary Care and Mental Health Services.  Each team will consist of a physician, nurse and a clerk.  The VA CBOC will have six teams during the initial start-up year with a patient load of 1,200 for each primary care team and 800 for the psychiatrist.  One additional primary care team will be added in year two and year three.

Two full-time psychiatrists will be hired for the VA CBOC to provide outpatient mental health services.  The VA CBOC will feature a modest laboratory, capable of performing routine procedures.  A sharing agreement will be established for prescription services.  Likewise, Specialty Care workload will be accomplished through the use of a negotiated sharing agreement between VA GCVHCS and Eglin AFB. 

Benefits

In addition to providing more accessible health care for veterans, the VA CBOC will provide backup and support for DoD during times of military conflicts and/or national emergencies.

The Family Residency Graduate Medical Education (GME) Teaching Program at Eglin is growing from 8 to 10 residents in FY 08; the Eglin 96th Medical Group’s Family Practice residency program is in need of higher acuity patients in order to meet GME requirements.  Sharing agreements with the VA CBOC will help meet this need.  At the same time, veterans will benefit by having access to highly qualified professionals participating in the GME program. 

Based on an expected increase in Active Daily Patient Load (ADPL) of 3-5 patients per day, the Eglin Hospital projects to receive $1.8 million to $2.4 million annually in reimbursement for ancillary support and inpatient services rendered.  This represents a 75% increase in their current reimbursements and will help to offset the constrained Operations & Maintenance (O&M) military health care budget. 

            In closing, the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic will be a joint success for Eglin AFB, the VA, and our combined patient populations.  This cooperative effort should serve as a model for future efforts to support the health care needs of our nation’s veterans.

In closing, the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic will be a joint success for Eglin AFB, the VA, and our combined patient populations.  This cooperative effort should serve as a model for future efforts to support the health care needs of our nation’s veterans.

In closing, the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic will be a joint success for Eglin AFB, the VA, and our combined patient populations.  This cooperative effort should serve as a model for future efforts to support the health care needs of our nation’s veterans.

VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic

 

Community Based Outpatient Clinic

 

VA Outpatient Clinic at Eglin Air Force Base

Eglin CBOC Timeline

Eglin CBOC Overview