Three central Georgia hospitals, including two from the Augusta area, are pooling resources to form a regional cooperative that will provide veterans and active-duty military personnel with improved access to health care, primarily in orthopedics, the hospitals announced Monday.
Fort Gordon’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center are forming the Georgia Federal Healthcare Executives Council with the Carl Vinson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dublin, Ga.
As a result of the collaboration, the three facilities recently won a two-year, $2.9 million grant from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to develop a partnership in orthopedic care and post-surgical rehabilitation. The grant will fund additional personnel and equipment at the hospitals.
“This is just great news for everyone involved,” Col. Christopher Castle, the commander of the Eisenhower hospital, said of the partnership. “Our military doctors and nursing staff can see more patients and hone the skills they need to take care of our deployed forces.”
According to details of the agreement, the three medical centers started coordinating patient care and identifing opportunities for sharing facilities, personnel and services in January 2012.
After receiving positive feedback, with one veteran describing his experience as the “best health care encounter of his life,” the collaborative effort became official Monday.
Under the agreement, orthopedic patients referred from the Dublin VA hospital have surgery at Eisenhower and undergo rehabilitation at the nearby Augusta VA.
Carl Vinson Director John Goldman, who proposed the cooperative venture, called it “a win-win situation.”
“Our primary focus is always on providing the highest quality healthcare to our veterans, but in this situation we also ensure more efficient use of resources that benefits all involved, including American taxpayers,” he said.
VA and Army health care professionals said they hope to use each other as “sounding boards” for identifying and learning the best approaches to treatment.
Federal officials at the three centers expect to add new services regularly and become a national model in federal health care.
“Federal agencies are continually seeking new ways to be as efficient as possible, making this collaboration not only important now, but for the future,” Goldman said. “My belief is that what we are doing with this joint venture is just the first of great teamwork to come.”